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Chantal’s Influence Tips 57: Leveraging Language – Part Two: Metaphorically speaking


There are many ways you can use language to persuade, engage, inform and enlighten people.

Metaphor does all of these and more.
And the great thing is, you naturally think in metaphor. It’s not a new idea or something you have to learn. It’s just about noticing and asking yourself ”how can I use it more effectively?”.
A metaphor is a figure of speech – which itself is a metaphor! It shows up in our language all the time, as a word or a complete phrase.
It’s simply understanding one thing, in terms of another. Here are some examples;
Life is a journey 
We need to test the waters
Don’t run before you can walk
Tow the line
The truth was hard to swallow
Enjoy the fruits of your labour
It’s a needle in a haystack
Some benefits of using metaphor:
Bring abstract concepts to life
Engage listeners and draw them in (spot the metaphor)
Convey complexity in a simple way
Understand what and how someone is thinking
Make your ideas easy to grasp (oops metaphor)

If you want to tone your metaphor muscle, here are a few ways;

1.Notice and note down interesting metaphors that you see and hear
2. Finish the following phrase or sentence with at least two different endings (let your unconscious do the work).
He held on to the pen as if it were ———-
Her singing reminded me of ———-
Today’s challenge is  ———– compared to last week’s
2. Pick an issue you want to influence.
Example: You want to convince someone to extend a deadline.
a) Ask yourself “What’s the core benefit to them of extending?”  Let’s say it’s ‘to get a high quality result’ and you know this is important to them.
b) Now think of something that represents the idea of high quality.
c) Then design the metaphor
“Just 2 more days will mean the difference between offering a prime fillet steak versus a bog standard burger.”
I’m using a comparative metaphor. It’s not important that you like this example. What’s important is honing your metaphor muscle so you can become a Jedi influencer.
Here’s a nice example:
“We lose one acre of rainforest every second. Imagine a giant invader from space, clomping across the rain forests of the world with football field size feet, going boom, boom, boom every second. Would we react? That’s essentially what’s going on right now”   (Al Gore describing the diminishing rain forest).
Chantal Burns ScreenshotChantal Burns

Executive Coach, Speaker and Bestselling Author of

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