3 Reasons to Use Metaphors in Business Communication
The rapid pace of technology and the world makes it more challenging than ever to connect with people, especially those with whom we want to build consensus and influence.
While words are powerful, the human brain is wired to think in pictures and images. For example, if someone said the word ‘car’ to you, your mind will instantly pull up an image of a car, not the letters C-A-R. You may picture your dream car, your first car, or the car you currently drive.
Consider these three reasons for using metaphors in in business:
- Metaphors help us capture attention. The year 2014 has been dubbed ‘The Year of the Visual’ on social media. Infographics, slide decks, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo, and Vine snippets garner more attention than basic text. Therefore, it makes sense that we weave metaphors—which pull up mental pictures—into our business conversations and presentations. Metaphors help our messages resonate with others.
|Problem: Your organization needs to move from Process A to Process B.
Solution: Process A has to be streamlined so that it works more efficiently.
Metaphor to use: Bottom-line, the new process will take the sand out of the gears.
Metaphors create emotional connections to other humans. Metaphors—also referred to as comparisons, analogies, or relationships—speak from and to the right side of the brain. This portion of the brain handles emotion and imagination. When discussing a logical matter (left brain), such as systems and processes, consider this suggestion by corporate trainer and author Anne Miller.
- Metaphors help simplify complex thoughts and ideas. Have you ever watched or listened to a newscast where the announcer says, “The water main break pushed 15,000 gallons of water into the streets of our city. 15,000 gallons. That’s enough to fill Yankee Stadium three times.” We may not grasp what 15,000 gallons of water looks like, but most people have an image of a professional baseball stadium to help them better understand the size and scope of 15,000 gallons of water, three times over.
As Miller says, this subtle power of language helps us to persuade, explain, sell, and inspire others to get the results we want.