Competitive Communication: A Rhetoric for Modern Business

By Barry Eckhouse | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This book is about competitive communication, the kind of communication that seeks and competes for an audience's attention, agreement, or action. Although such communication is not limited to the world of business, I will suggest that it is a particularly intelligent way to think about the important exchanges that take place there. This book is also an example of competitive communication, since it is an attempt to present my readers with something that is different in the field of business communication and something that I hope will be of value to them as practitioners.

This book differs from others in several respects. First, it emphasizes the competitive dimension of communication in a way that should be familiar to anyone who is aware of contemporary business trends and practice. Competition is a term frequently used in discussions of modern business, though it has yet to be used to describe the kind of communication that takes place there. By using it as an organizing concept for this book, I hope to provide my readers with a way of understanding communication that is already familiar to them through their practice in business.

This book differs from others in another, more significant respect. It emphasizes the construction of arguments, an intellectual activity that blurs the distinction between communication and thought (not that it was ever that clear to begin with). Such emphasis is almost absent from the current market of books on business communication. Although some have discussed persuasion, and others have given attention to the parts of an argument, few have said anything about how argument, as a specific form of persuasion, is constructed or presented. This is especially unfortunate because argument, as a useful form of reasoned persuasion, is indispensable to working professionals who must convince others of their point of view. It is also indispensable if one is to be clear about one's point of view in the first place.

A unique feature of this book is its reliance on the discipline of rhetoric and its use of classical and contemporary models to provide the practitioner with a systematic approach to constructing an argument, from the initial stages of the plan to the final steps of the presentation. Although I do not continually refer to Aristotle's enthymeme by its Greek name, this logical device nevertheless serves as the foundation of discussion and practice in Chapters 3 through 6. This book offers the first extensive application of this classical device in business communication and extends its usefulness in composition by integrating it with the proofline, a diagram for representing reasoning, developed by the English philosopher Stephen Toulmin.

This book also differs from others in its discussion of the rhetorical concept of

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