Because I Said So


IF you want people to agree with you, THEN you must give people a logical argument.

Except for one HUGE problem–that statement is patently false!

It might sound good, but if you read last weeks post, you know that the above sentence is actually an IF, AND, THEN syllogism with one step missing. The full syllogism looks like this:

IF you want people to agree with you,
AND people agree with logical arguments,
THEN you must give people a logical argument.

Notice that step I left out: “People agree with logical arguments.” Is that true? Of course not. Everybody who has ever tried to convince anybody of anything, knows that people won’t necessarily agree with you just because you’re logical.

That’s why I left the illogical step out!

Logic doesn’t always work–especially when it comes to public speaking skills and presentations.

Consider this conversation:

pea-1205673_640Parent: Eat your peas.
Child: No!

Parent: Eat your peas.
Child: Why?

Parent: BECAUSE they’re good for you.
Child: No!

Parent: BECAUSE I made them and you should be grateful!
Child: No!

Parent: BECAUSE kids are starving in Africa.
Child: No!

Parent: BECAUSE you’re not getting dessert!
Child: Why?


The parent tries to JUSTIFY what he or she wants with arguments that don’t even make complete sense–each time using the word BECAUSE.

Just Justification

Whether you are a public speaker, giving a sales presentation, or just need to improve communication skills, you want people to agree with you, you want people to listen, and you want people to do what you ask.

Most communicators make the mistake of thinking a logical argument will be the most persuasive argument. If that’s all you do, you’re ignoring the fact that people are emotional beings.

You should give people logic, not because logic works, but BECAUSE people have an emotional need to feel logical and satisfying that need to feel logical works.

So yes, logic works–if it FEELS good.

The best persuaders and the best presenters aren’t giving LOGIC, they’re giving EXCUSES. The persuader wins only when the persuader produces an excuse that the listener can use to justify their own behavior.

Children starving in Africa is not an excuse that a four year old can use to persuade themselves to eat peas–even if the parent thinks it’s logical.

Subconsciously, in most instances, people make decisions emotionally, and then use a logical argument to rationalize the emotional decision. We are not consciously aware that we are doing this. We “feel” like we are being logical even when we’re not.

If you are an emotional person, you might agree. If you disagree and think of yourself as a more rational person, you can learn more about the scientific evidence for this assertion by researching pioneers in the field of emotional decision making like Antonio Demasio. The effect is called “post hoc rationalization.”

Even if you don’t accept this about yourself, you can accept it about your audience–BECAUSE it’s usually true for most people.

the_thinker_musee_rodinPeople can and do act rationally, but only if they slow down and make a conscious effort to think about it. Most people–especially in a group audience situation–don’t take time to do that.

In most verbal communication, public speaking situations, or sales presentations, there is not time for the listener to slow down and reason–at least not while listening to the speaker at the same time.

Remember this rule of thumb:

Most people don’t need logic, they only need JUSTIFICATION.

People have an emotional need to feel logical.

Semblance of a Syllogism, part 2

One way to satisfy the brains need to feel logical is to provide a logical argument in the form of a syllogism.

As discussed in last weeks post, the IF-AND-THEN structure of a syllogism provides the illusion of logic, even if it’s not actually rational. Please read last weeks post, before continuing.

By leaving one step of the syllogism out, an ethical presenter can bolster his or her logical argument by allowing the listener to self-persuade. However, by leaving out an untrue step of the supposed syllogism, a con artist can provide the illusion of logic, even when there is none:

IF you want people to agree with you, THEN you must give people a logical argument.

That’s why the above statement sounds right, when it’s actually faulty logic, or incomplete at best.

As explained in part 1 last week, one simple way to be more persuasive is with simple IF-THEN statements. This week in part 2, let’s use a different approach–justification.

Because Unconditional Justification Works

An IF-THEN statement gives the listener the illusion of choice BECAUSE it empowers them to persuade themselves.

However, it’s also effective to state the syllogism as absolute fact, BECAUSE the listener rarely has time to question the speaker’s logic.
http-www-pixteller-com-pdata-t-l-543044Just link a premise and a conclusion together with a conjuction such as the word BECAUSE.

Just by swapping the order of the words and using the word BECAUSE, I can rewrite my false assertion without using IF-THEN:

You must give people a logical argument BECAUSE you want people to agree with you.

Take any premise, and any conclusion, and link them together–BECAUSE it works.

The “because” conjunction will increase your persuasiveness, BECAUSE it provides the illusion of logic, even if none exists.

Of course, using real logic is better than illusion, BECAUSE you want to be an honest persuader. Nevertheless, the word “because,” linking a premise to a conclusion, is actually enough to improve your results.

All of these example sentences are just partial syllogisms in disguise, phrased unconditionally. Whatever you put behind the BECAUSE should be the JUSTIFICATION that the listener wants to hear.


Subconsciously, a person making excuses actually feels like the excuses are logical:

BECAUSE the dog ate my homework

shield-417826_640The word “because” somehow excuses a lack of logic.

You’ll find lots of research and commentary on the word “because.”  The word “because” gets the most attention in the scientific literature, but you can feign a logical syllogism with almost any word or phrase that links a premise with a conclusion or a conclusion with a justification:

IF you want people to agree with you, THEN give them a logical justification.

You want people to agree with you, THEREFORE give them a logical justification.

Give people logical justification SO THAT they agree with you.

Don’t give logical justifications, UNLESS you want people to agree with you.

People will agree with you DUE TO THE FACT THAT you give logical justification.

People will agree with you WHEN you give justification.

For more information on persuasion and getting your audience to commit and comply, check our the “Encourage Participation” principle in my SpeechDeck presentation skills system.

You just state the partial syllogism as absolute fact by making an excuse for whatever you want the listener to believe. And as long as the listener can use your BECAUSE as an excuse, it works.

Child: Why do I have to eat my peas?
Parent: BECAUSE I said so!

Somehow that seems logical to the parent.
And ever more strangely, sometimes, that even seems logical to the child.

I didn’t say it will work 100%, but it will increase your persuasiveness.

Therefore, JUSTIFY your assertions–because I said so!

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