Tag Archive for: Dallas Cowboys

What’s Aristotle’s Best Persuasion Advice?

Last week I quoted Aristotle in the post about Lance Armstrong. The great Greek philosopher, is credited with telling the world, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” I had a chance to see that up close and
personal not too long ago.

Many of you reading this may be familiar with the tragic story of Josh Brent and his late friend Jerry Brown. Jerry died in a car accident in December when Josh was behind the wheel. According to police reports, Josh’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit to be considered drunk. In an amazing act of kindness Stacey Brown, Jerry’s mother, forgave Josh and asked his Dallas Cowboys teammates to do the same.
On December 16 the Dallas Cowboys played the Pittsburgh Steelers in a nationally televised game and Josh Brent was shown on the sideline with his teammates. The Cowboys organization thought that was a way to
support Josh as he struggles with the reality of his actions. The American public didn’t see it that way and Facebook and Twitter lit up with comments asking how the Cowboys could do such a thing. I was among those who posted a comment because it was inconceivable to me that someone getting ready to go to court for the manslaughter of his best friend, while intoxicated, would be allowed on the sidelines, especially given the fact that the National Football League has had such a big problem with players and substance abuse.
Several people commented on my post and I made a joke that Josh’s next game will be as a prisoner in The Longest Yard 3. That’s when a friend, someone whom I respect very much, weighed in and wrote, “Jerry Brown’s mother has forgiven Josh. Please don’t dishonor her or her son with these comments. Thanks so much fellas.”
Immediately I was convicted. I still disagreed
with the decision by the Cowboys organization but my second comment was insensitive and my friend was 100% right. But what really made the difference for me was the respect I have for my friend. He didn’t need to do anything except share the truth and because of how he’s conducted his life it carried the weight of the world for me.
I deleted my original comment and the subsequent comments from my Facebook wall then sent a message to my friend to let him know I heard him, that I was wrong, and that the comment had been removed. He
replied as follows:
“My niece was killed by a drunk driver; my sister was maimed by a drunk driver, losing the use of her leg. I am adamantly opposed to drinking and driving. I can’t imagine what this young man will go
through knowing what he did to his best friend. My guess is that his teammates are just trying to help him get through it. You are a great friend and I know you would do the same for me if I screwed up like this; while still kicking my butt for being so stupid.”
I didn’t know this about my friend’s family history with drunk drivers. As I noted earlier, because of how my friend has conducted himself over the 20 years I’ve known him he had the right to set me straight. It never feels good to be called to the carpet but I’ve learned the best approach is to take Dale Carnegie’s advice – When you’re wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.
I teach people about the psychology of persuasion because I believe it’s a necessary tool for success and happiness. However, even if you don’t consider yourself an expert on the principles of
influence there’s another tool that’s completely within your control – your conduct, which builds or destroys your character. Do the right thing and you earn the right to speak into people’s lives because Aristotle was correct, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”


Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.