Why use Metaphors?
Have you noticed how mundane communication can be when people use the same words or phrases over and over again? In corporate organisations, the same corporate buzzwords and phrases are repetitively used and over time they lose significance and meaning. Everything becomes the same. Do you want to make your communication more significant, impactful and interesting? Metaphors are being used more and more in organisations to:
- engage listeners;
- demonstrate with passion;
- stand out from the crowd;
- give maximum meaning;
- use minimum words;
- create new meanings.
Warning: Ordinary everyday metaphors have been used so much in everyday conversation that they will go by unnoticed or worse sound like tired meaningless phrases. For example, "iron resolution" “The war for talent” or “Back to the grindstone.”
What is Metaphor?
The word metaphor has Greek origins meaning to: ‘carry something across’ or ‘transfer.’ It is a powerful and innovative way of conveying a message.
Linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson have worked extensively on the use of metaphor and observe:
“In all aspects of life ... we define our reality in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act on the basis of the metaphors. We draw inferences, set goals, make commitments, and execute plans, all on the basis of how we in part structure our experience, consciously and unconsciously, by means of metaphor.”
What decisions, goals and inferences do you make using your own habitual metaphors?
How do Metaphors Work?
Metaphors engage the unconscious mind allowing people to do their own transderivatoinal search (TDS) to give meaning and interpretation to what you are saying.
Metaphors create new meanings as they connect to your visual, auditory and kinaesthetic senses.
When are Metaphors Used?
They can be used all the time. More specifically they are useful when:
- Teaching a lesson or a moral.
- Conveying values.
- Creating new ideas.
- Changing meaning from problems to solutions.
- Enabling people to recognise their problems.
- Focusing attention on an important point.
- Simplifying complicated information.
- Changing behaviour.
What else do Metaphors do?
They enhance your credibility, integrity and reputation. Metaphors can be used in all sorts of situations. For example coaching, presenting, one to one conversations, performance discussions, selling, negotiating, training and leading.
They make you out to be a genius!
"The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars." Aristotle
Creating your metaphor story line
1. Think of and write down the situation that has a meaning or a learning point and evokes an emotion e.g. happiness, fear, surprise, sadness, nervousness, courage etc.
2. Name the people who are involved in this story.
3. Write down 3 points when explaining what had happened.
4. Write down the outcome and what you learned.