If you want to make sure people hear you, use a powerful communication tool: the metaphor. If you’re not a poet, don’t fret, there are some easy steps you can follow to improve your metaphor use. For example:
Pay attention to metaphors others use.
Become a metaphor anthropologist by taking notice of novel metaphors you come across. If you read or hear one that grabs your attention because it’s original, write it down for inspiration when you prepare your own presentation or speech. One example is from Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, who talks about obstacles in achieving our dreams: “But remember, the brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Another example is from entrepreneur and author Seth Godin, a master of the metaphor. He uses the metaphor of jazz vs. bowling to show the different ways we approach work. Jazz leaves room for the imagination, for creativity, flexibility and adaptation, while bowling is more linear and “all about one number: the final score … and yet … when we get to work, most of us choose to bowl.”
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