I was reading a book about the stock market recently. It brought to mind hypnosis. Hypnosis? Sometimes when I teach how to communicate with the unconscious mind using metaphor, people ask me if you can use metaphor in a business context. The answer is an emphatic “Yes you can!”
A metaphor is a story whose meaning also fits another situation. For instance the expression “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” usually isn’t a literal request for back scratching. It’s a metaphor for people helping each other. “Burning the candle at both ends” means working too hard. Metaphor is like shorthand for the mind. A simple metaphor or one-line simile can effectively get across an idea that otherwise takes a long time to communicate. In business, counseling or personal relationships, this kind of condensed, meaning packed communication is key.
Think about how much richer a metaphor is than simply stating the facts. When politicians want to have an impact on audiences they tell a story about how a particular policy affects an individual. Think about the differences…
“Cutting retirement benefits in the way my opponent suggests will cost the average person $137 in benefits per month.”
“Mary Smith uses her retirement payment to feed her three kids, Bobby, Sue and Johnny. If we implement my opponent’s plan she won’t be able to feed one of them. Can you imagine Mary coming home to her three hungry kids, sitting down at the dinner table and telling Johnny, ‘You can’t eat today son, mommy can’t afford it?'”
Which of those will have the greater impact on the greater number of people?