March 3, 2020

Ep141: Metaphor and The Danger of Words

Ep141: Metaphor and The Danger of Words

Feeling misunderstood? Maybe you need a little metaphor in your life! Why is that important for business?  “Metaphor is how we nail the jelly of reality to the wall”.  Joe Moran, from First You Write a Sentence. So often, we feel like...

Feeling misunderstood? Maybe you need a little metaphor in your life!

Why is that important for business? 

“Metaphor is how we nail the jelly of reality to the wall”. 

So often, we feel like we have good communication - we think everyone knows what is meant by a word, but everyone has their own perspective of how they imagine that word. 

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

  • George Bernard Shaw

If someone says “stability” and one person thinks they mean financial independence and one thinks they mean flexibility, we are now living on separate islands, trying to have a conversation and make decisions. If you use metaphor, however, it takes people out to the fuzzy focus of a thing, where you don’t get stuck on wordsmithing and things become somehow more clear. 

This isn’t necessarily about stories – stories are where we draw metaphors from, but metaphor is a stage above. Stories can have same risk as words do – they are often too precise and seem to reflect just one situation. Metaphor allows you to create a widely applicable construct that you can use to navigate and define numerous situations. It gets at the intent behind the words. 

Against all odds, clarity can actually come from the abstract.

While metaphor can’t claim to be exact, it’s better than the alternatives because it gives you your best shot at alignment. It creates a dotted line around the sensations and meanings of things, and the intent of the space. If we can draw line about the intent behind a thing, we don’t have to be as precise about the pieces or words.

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