Metaphors, Analogies & Stories In Communication
Life is Full Of Fables
Throughout all of recorded time, stories have been the most powerful way to convey a message.
Many of the ancient texts seep timely wisdom through narratives and anecdotes.
Stories have a way to appeal directly to our imagination and emotional mind, making them way more effective than just words.
In our everyday lives, there are metaphors that surround us, waiting to be discovered. If only we can open our eyes, and imagination we can create rich experiences from simple observations.
Even the things that we pay very little attention to can equate to profound wisdom.
It is up to you to craft your narrative, to teach and understand the world through metaphors.
How do we seamlessly link ideas to improve communication and understanding?
Anything Can Teach you Everything
Some people live to interpret ancient texts.
Forevermore, people will discuss and argue over what the “true” message is behind the text.
The depth contained in simple phrases can fill books and even split religions into factions.
It is almost impossible to know the true meaning, so we each derive our own interpretation.
Multiples of peoples have different opinions, based on their environment and understanding.
One person can look at an apple falling from a tree and think “food” while another can look at the very same apple and think “gravity”.
Observation can gleam insight relating to what has been on our minds and can often lead to a revelation if you are open to it.
So Much To Unpack
Thinking in stories and metaphors will help you communicate with others.
There can be so many lessons packed into a single story.
Have you ever listened to someone tell you a sequence of events, but you can pinpoint certain words that tell a different story?
The subtlety in the language and timing of the pauses can give you clues into the person mind.
This is what we call reading between the lines.
An author may develop a story, and people may decide to read deeper into the narrative than the author intended.
The reader or viewer may come away with profound wisdom that the author did not consider when creating the works.
Stories Are Relative
Using powerful imagery and building up a base of metaphors will make you better at explaining and teaching.
One of Albert Einstein’s creative abilities was that of communicating his ideas through parables.
His ability to make complex theories understandable on a mass scale contributed to his uncommon fame as a scientist.
Einstein used metaphors to describe his theories, and this made them relatable.
One of the famous thought experiments is that of relativity.
He compares an event occurring and observation by someone travelling on a train versus an observer on the platform. The observers, depending on their perspective, are seeing the same event happen, but differently.
He managed to express his ideas visually to an audience who may not have understood the math.
This simple analogy forms the basis of our understanding of time and quantum mechanics.
Through a simple illustration, Einstein explained that two events can happen simultaneously from the perspective of one observer yet happen at different times from the perspective of the other. And both observers would be correct.
One could take away another metaphor from this example. Someone could use this same analagy to argue that everything is relative. If I replace the speed of light in the story (a constant) with the point that I am trying to communicate to two different people. The two observers can hear the same message and interpret them differently based on their relative opinions.
Conversation is Tricky.
When you try to deliver a message or story, you can never know how it will come across.
Two people will often walk away with a completely different perspective of the same story.
You cannot know how the other person interprets what you say.
When listening, it is great to ask questions and give brief summaries to understand.
Using phrases like “so you are saying…” or “what I understand is…” makes people feel like you are actively listening and engaged in conversation.
If you don’t understand something, the other person likely needs to change their explanation strategy.
It is almost impossible for someone to understand better if they do not get it.
That is why it is our responsibility to explain in a way that the individual will resonate with.
There is no better way to understand, but there is a better way to explain.
If you want to become a better communicator and create unique analogies, some things to consider are:
Meet the person on their level and frequency. Start from a basic knowledge that the person already understands.
Try not to go too deep initially. If you venture too far down the rabbit hole, you will likely turn off the other person’s brain.
Clarity is better than accuracy. Paint a broad picture, and if the person wants the finer detail, they can follow up later.
Pique their interest by making the story relevant and exciting. Why should the person remember? How will it affect them?
Ask the person to clarify what they got from the story. Solidify the experience by gaining an insight into the way they think.
If we can learn how to paint pictures and images through stories, we can unlock profound and unconventional wisdom.
We can gain clarity and explain more succinctly if we open our minds to the metaphors that surround us.
By relating our ideas with stories, analogies, and parables, we can better communicate in a way that will be impactful.
As Eisenstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.