The last post uncovered a lot of emotional responses, which was one of the goals. The definition of critical thinking is making decisions based on greater criteria, devoid of emotion. The problem with emotion is it clouds judgment and reduces our ability to think at the highest range of our potential. This is one of the major obstacles to world-class success, and 90% of us fall into this trap. I would challenge anyone interested in this concept to read the comments on the Rush Limbaugh post and see how many people actually addressed my point and question. Over 80% of the comments made an emotional leap and accused me of saying (or implying) things I never said. That’s emotional thinking, and it’s a one of the biggest performance issues I deal with every day with corporate executives and their teams. In mental toughness training at the highest level, we use logic and reason in decision making and emotion for motivation—and we never mix the two. After doing this work with Fortune 500 companies for the past 16 years, I can tell you only the top 10% of performers understand this concept enough to use it to their advantage. Watch this short video I just taped at NBC in Nashville. And thanks to everyone who commented on the last post. If you think it was controversial, wait until you see my next book coming out in June!  Steve Siebold  (4:01)

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Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

19 thoughts on “Are You An Emotional or Logical Thinker?”

  1. Are you still using lazy load on the majority of your sites? I’ve found that a large amount of my visitors actually prefer the site without lazy load, as it feels like they’re waiting longer for images to load, when it is switched on.

  2. Hi Steve
    Congratulations for adding momentum to what is worthy of public debate, no doubt his comments have expanded the scope of her cause and provided her with priceless publicity, she should thank him publically and ask him to define slut! I wish her well in her persut. One comment I have to make though is your persistant use of the word “training”, you train Dogs and educate people. If she were trained, she wouldnot be questioning.

  3. If we are discussing aesthetics, logic has less of a role. If we are talking about business, emotional decision making can be disastrous. If we want to continue living in a constitutional republic where every citizen has a vote, then logic becomes critical to our future. Quibbling about art, music, or the aroma of fine wine is good fodder for emotional discussion, but logical thinking is necessary for instiutions to succeed.


  4. “The want of logic annoys. Too much logic bores. Life eludes logic, and everything that logic alone constructs remains artificial and forced.” Andre Gide

    Then it is OK not to be logical or emotional. Humans are surrounded by it. Someone will always take up the mantle of responsible logic and or emotions without our input. We can pick and choose the levels of logic and emotion that we are able to compartmentalize.

  5. Mike,

    Actually, using emotional appeals to persuade is rational; however, it doesn’t necessarily help us arrive at truth, goodness, or beauty. Propaganda works, but it isn’t necessarily positive.

    Aristotle taught use there are three principles of persuasion: (1) Character/Credibility of the speaker/opponent/audience (Ethos); (2) Emotion (Pathos); and (3) Logic (Logos). Logic tends to be more persuasive with critical thinkers, but it tends to be less effective on audiences who are not classically educated. Appeals to emotion and character are more effective on audiences that possess limited critical thinking skills. If the goal is to win over ignorant audiences, it is irrational to spend the majority of the presentation using logic. Therefore, using emotional appeals can be rational; however don’t confuse using emotional appeals with BEING emotional. Sophists (master public speakers), whom Socrates hated, were masters at manipulating the masses with emotional appeals. Their pragmatism often won in courtrooms; however, Socrates believed it was immoral to lead people away from truth, even if the outcome was positive.
    Plato taught us that a man’s soul is like a chariot compromised of a charioteer (reason/intellect) and two horses: 1st horse is morality/virtue; 2nd horse is passions/appetites/carnality. In Plato’s chariot allegory the charioteer spends a lifetime attempting to steer the two horses towards enlightenment.
    I believe emotions are an excellent co-pilot but a horrible pilot. While we should certainly pay attentions to our emotions, we must give them a supporting rather than a commanding role in our decisionmaking.
    A great public speaker incorporates all three principles of persuasion: character, emotion, and logic, to win over audiences. A speaker on fitness has more credibility when they are not overweight, and emotional appeals remove walls of defense that make it difficult to connect with an audience; however, no argument will ever have long term success unless it makes logical sense.
    I recommend the book: “Thank You For Arguing,” by Jay Heinrichs. It is available for free on PDF at:,%20Lincoln,%20and%20Homer%20Simpson%20Can%20Teach%20Us%20About%20the%20Art%20of%20Persuasion.pdf

    Heinrich’s book is a great resource on how to be persuasive.
    Steve lost credibility with me when he attacked those who argue emotionally, when that is exactly what he was doing in his last two posts. Although I was giving Steve a hard time in my overly pedantic post, he is correct that making the complicated simple is our goal. We also must know our audience well enough to know what percentage of our presentation should be dedicated to logic, credibility, and emotion. Even successful public speakers can have their buttons pushed, as Steve demonstrated in his response to my post. If our purpose is to help people live better lives for having met us, then we owe it to ourselves to sharpen all of our persuasive skills.



  6. Steve,
    It doesn’t take a Phd in logic to conclude your posts were guilty of emotional thinking. When you hold yourself out to be a logical person, you open yourself up to scrutiny. Here is how I see your argument from your last post:

    Premise A: Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut.”

    Premise B: It is wrong for talk show hosts to call political operatives bad names on the air.

    Conclusion: the GOP presidential candidates should be focusing their campaigns on responding to Rush Limbaugh’s faux pas rather than the economy, defense, and our national debt.

    Your liberal use of explanatory adjectives to describe Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke was emotional rhetoric at it’s finest. There was very little logical persuasion in your argument that helped us arrive at your conclusion that the GOP candidates should be responding to Rush Limbaugh’s boorish comments.

    In your response to me, you continue to use emotion. Rather than appeal to logic, you focus attention away from my point (which is the lack of logical thinking in your last two posts) by using distractors (e.g., calling Sandra Fluke a slut is wrong, attack on my ostentatious language, how much money you make, etc.) While all of your points might be true, they are irrelevant to addressing my main issue. Rather than use arguments that are irrelevant to my claim, I recommend you use arguments that demonstrate you are logical.

    The only time I bring out the big logic words is when people make claims they are logical and everyone else is not. I stand ready to be persuaded that I am wrong in my assessment of your thinking in your last two posts (emotional vs. logical).

    Finally, in response to your parting comment: “When companies start paying me 20K a day to explain the practical use of inductive and deductive reasoning, I’ll take your advice. Until then I’ll continue selling my system. Do you see the logic in that?” That is an emotional response Steve, not a logical one. The fact that you get $20k from companies because you tell them you are logical makes you persuasive; it doesn’t make you logical. You are a talented and persuasive public speaker. Because you hold yourself out as a logical thinker, I hope you will consider spending a little more time improving your logic, as I believe you can still make money even if incorporate real logic into your current (financially successful) system.
    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss.

    1. Joe,
      What about stating the fact that companies pay me 20K a day is emotional? It’s an objective fact. And being a persuasive public speaker has nothing to do with it. I’m not sure how much you know about the speaking business, but corporate boards of billion dollar companies don’t pay world class fees for persuasion. When you have 100,000 employees counting on your decisions, you don’t hire a motivational speaker, you hire a world class expert to offer ideas on how to improve. I’ve been doing this for 16 years. This isn’t something I read in a book. In your effort to prove an expert wrong, you’ve made basic mistakes in your analysis. Teaching critical thinking has little to do with complicated processes and overanalysis; it has to do with results. Thats what companies pay for at the highest level. Thats emotionless fact, Joe.

  7. Steve,
    Like you, I also encourage viewers of this post to review your last video podcast and when they do, I recommend they write down on a piece of paper the adjectives you use for Rush Limbaugh and the adjectives you use for Sandra Fluke. Based on the the notes gathered, viewers are encouraged to determine whether or not you were using “ethos” and “pathos” as opposed to “logos” to support your claim.
    In your current post you commit the “petitio principii” fallacy multiple times, stating that you were logical in your Rush Limbaugh Slur video podcast but your responders where emotional; however, you offer no concrete examples other than proclaiming you were logical and everyone else was emotional. In this podcast you provide non-sequitur support for your claim that you are a master of logical thinking.
    If you are going to make the sweeping judgement that you are a master logician operating in a world of emotional reactionists, then I recommend you offer concrete examples of emotional thinking (e.g., ad baculum, ad populum, ad misericordiam, ad verecundiam, etc..). I also recommend you use examples of deductive and inductive reasoning as positive examples of logical thinking. It is evident you are adept at making money and teaching others to maximize their economic potential as well, but from what I have seen in your last two videos, your rhetorical defaults seem to be Aristotle’s “ethos” and “pathos” rather than “logos.”


    1. Joe,
      You’re either a college professor or you just read a book by one! It doesn’t take a Phd in logic or philosophy to conclude that calling a woman a slut is wrong. Thats 8th grade common sense. Your analysis belongs in academia. It’s a classic case of overanalysis for the purpose of trying to make something simple sound complicated. I get paid to do the opposite. My job isn’t to impress clients with what I learned in a classroom, it’s to help them solve problems through logical vs. emotional reasoning. When companies start paying me 20K a day to explain the practical use of inductive and deductive reasoning, I’ll take your advice. Until then I’ll continue selling my system. Do you see the logic in that? 🙂 Thanks for your comments, Joe.

  8. Emotions can be our instrument of invention. There is a time and place for constructive emotions to be used as a tool to attain personal human goals. The least emotional impetus can lead to the itch and then subsequent knowledge, ideas and tools needed to satisfy our need for successful attainment. Humans can select their emotions which would better serve their ability to think, apply and invent calculations that would then not be affected by his own emotions.
    In board meetings, members should arrive with the understanding that the agenda was definite. That, members are to be void of any emotions. This is not the time and place for emotions. Its time for presentation of logic that was studied and ready for presentation with all the options covered. All negatives should have already been eliminated. Positive ideas and solutions prevail.

  9. I enjoy the way your blog posts challenge us to THINK, Steve. I don’t always notice when I’m making a decision or comment that is emotionally-based, but I do so a LOT more often than I did before I began studying these ideas!! Thanks for provoking us to think about what we think about 🙂

    PS See you at the workshop in Phoenix next month!

  10. If we honestly look at the decisions we make, hindsight tells us emotion has a role but is not #1 in the decision making process. The principles in the following quote speak volumes.

    Make your decisions with logic, implement them with emotion and NEVER confuse the two.

  11. Hi Steve

    Nice one Logic versus emotion……Its only natural that we all have the choice to make decisions via logic or emotion…….. Therefore when we are dependent on a member of our team or a worker to perform, and to pull their weight, we must ask ourselves can I afford to get emotional with team/workers if they don’t perform?? will it benefit the final outcome I wish to achieve adversely or positively???? …….and then, what do we need to have in place in order to be able to approach a non performance situation with logic rather than emotion.
    Well first of all, If we are wise, we will have in place incentives for our team members in order to benefit them for their high performance. Therefore they are the losers and if the job is not done, no incentive. And therefore to get emotional would be futile we would become the loser not them.
    Then you might say… well the job still hasn’t been done so now what?? either we get another team member to do it (and give recognition/incentive accordingly) and then we can be content and happy that at least that we have achieved performance and our final goals and outcomes are achieved.
    An emotional approach is not an option…..but for some people to avoid an emotional reaction takes a lot of strength and will power. …so making a choice to be emotional or logic must be based on which will achieve the highest performance .
    In our minds, at that moment an emotional reaction may be automatic but as always on reflection to act logically will achieve the highest performance and our goals will be achieved with the least resistance, this is the most important thing.

  12. Marketers DEPEND on emotional response. The impulse buy is emotional.

    Marketers work to skip the critical thinking process and appeal to emotion in making decisions even with facts and figures.

    Corporate executives making business decisions need the “mental toughness” you describe.

    “Emotional thinking, …one of the biggest performance issues I deal with every day with corporate executives and their teams.” Corporate folks must learn to separate PERSONAL emotion because they are not individuals they are part of the whole called a “Team”. Appropriateness of emotion in corporate environments is mental toughness.

    Controversy is steeped in emotion. If you do not want people react emotionally, don’t create situations where they can share PERSONAL opinions on controversial subjects.

    If you do this as a training exercise to teach mental toughness you need to prepare your students beforehand and not just state that their reaction is emotional after the fact.

    Commenting on a blog post is not corporate. It is personal.

    Jumping to conclusion and creating meaning where none exists is human.

    Even the comment “Over 80% of the comments made an emotional leap and accused me of saying (or implying) things I never said, is based on the emotion to defend yourself.”

    No one is devoid of emotion.

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