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2022 | Buch

The Three Fears Every Leader Has to Know

Words to Use in a Crisis


Über dieses Buch

Fear is an inescapable part of how human beings experience reality. The impact of fear becomes particularly evident in a crisis. When a crisis strikes, be it a war, a pandemic, global warming or a financial crisis, leaders are challenged to exercise sound judgement by speaking and acting. This book argues that there are three fears every leader has to know – apocalyptic fear, political fear, and private fear. By appealing to these three fears in an adequate manner, a leader’s appeal to fear may serve a constructive purpose in a crisis.


Chapter 1. The Dilemma of Fear
The first chapter of the book discusses the appeal to fear in the light of various conceptions of fear throughout history. We examine how thinkers like Aristotle, Augustine, Macchiavelli, Rousseau, Darwin, and Freud interpret the role of fear in the lives of human beings, and how contemporary voices like Martha Nussbaum, Zygmunt Bauman, Elemèr Hankiss, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb explore the paradox of fear and human beings’ response to the arrival of a crisis. We also investigate the appeal to fear as a rhetorical dilemma. The chapter offers an introduction to the art of appealing to fear and how to calibrate that appeal by relating to where people are at.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
Chapter 2. Two Stories: One Dilemma
The second chapter presents the reader with two different stories. First, we tell the story of the three kinds of fear, and how they relate to three different places—nature, culture, and the place we call home. Secondly, we contrast the story of the three fears with the history of the ongoing energy crisis and how it has shaped and still shapes our feeling of fear in multiple ways. The second chapter analyses speeches by Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr, Greta Thunberg, and Barack Obama. Reflecting on the history of the emerging energy and climate crisis and how it relates to the story of fear, the chapter ends by exploring how our perceptions of the world as a limited or limitless place shape our concept of fear.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
Chapter 3. Apocalyptic Fear
This chapter examines apocalyptic fear in more depth. Apocalyptic fear is the most dramatic fear, the sort of fear that appears to threaten our very existence. It is the fear that nature may be collapsing, and that the world is coming to an end. In this chapter, we analyse speeches from a wide variety of leaders, like Mohammed Nasheed, Angela Merkel, Ronald Reagan, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Greta Thunberg, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, and Abdalla Salem El-Badri. The chapter emphasizes the need to create a sense of urgency when appealing to fear and underlines that a leader needs to help people make choices by calling upon a future vision and addressing your rhetorical adversary.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
Chapter 4. Political Fear
This chapter explores the appeal to political fear. It is the fear that our society or culture may be at risk. This sort of fear reminds us that our shared rules, rituals, and regulations might be threatened. We analyse speeches of leaders like Jimmy Carter, Angela Merkel, Marine Le Pen, Horst Seehofer, and Comical Ali, and look at how dystopian stories may help us to craft an appeal to political fear. The chapter aims to help leaders to give an adequate assessment of the situation at hand to compose a credible appeal to fear and to use that appeal to help the audience prioritize between potentially conflicting fears.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
Chapter 5. Private Fear
This chapter deals with the third type of fear, private fear. This is the fear that threatens the place we call home or our house. It may include the fear of losing your job, your family, your actual house, or even losing your sense of being true to yourself. This is the feeling that your authentic, autonomous, and perhaps even moral way of living, may be at risk. In this chapter, we analyse speeches from a wide variety of leaders, like Greta Thunberg, Al Pacino, Justin Trudeau, and Alexei Navalny. The reader will learn to know the power of appealing to shame and the importance of a deliberate exit strategy when appealing to fear.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
Chapter 6. Dressing Up to Address Fear
This chapter examines how the speaker should dress up to address all three kinds of fear. We discuss how the leader should use and develop her rhetorical wardrobe to appeal to fear in an adequate and credible manner. This implies that we explore what kind of words, metaphors, gestures, and styles of speech the leader should make use of when trying to bring forth the message. We also explain how the speaker’s rhetorical bandwidth may be expanded by practice. We here emphasize the importance of the character the speaker takes on and the wisely calibrated use of genre to appeal to fear in a well-founded and convincing manner. All in all, the reader will learn how to speak with a character and tone that matches the fear you face, use a fitting style of speech, and know how to use your own rhetorical wardrobe when appealing to fear.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
Chapter 7. The Virtue of Fear
The final chapter asks how the appeal to fear may serve as an appeal to act virtuously in the face of crisis. We argue that a threat—like a crisis of some sort—requires an adequate appeal to fear that helps the audience to respond to the emerging reality in a courageous manner. The aim is to show how to appeal to fear the right things at the right time and examine how an adequate response to fear may be courageous.
Bård Norheim, Joar Haga
The Three Fears Every Leader Has to Know
verfasst von
Dr. Bård Norheim
Dr. Joar Haga
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