Nov 18, 2015
Wall or Dam?
Like many people, depending on the day, I am both distressed and fascinated by
the current political primary races in both parties. But I do like to read the
political commentaries on both sides of the political spectrum. One of my
favorite commentators is David Brooks of The New York Times because his insights
are always accompanied by richly resonant metaphors and analogies.
article is true to form. It is about
four critical choices the Republican party will have to make soon if it hopes to
win the White House. Politics aside, his use of contrasting metaphors is why he is in this
month’s newsletter. His use of this technique is a good example for anyone who
has to distinguish between choices, products, services, technologies, or ideas
for clients, colleagues, or management. (And who doesn’t?)
See how three of these sets of metaphors might inspire you in your world…
“…And so the
large question Republicans must ask themselves is: Are we as a party willing
to champion the new America that is inexorably rising around us, or
are we the receding roar of an old America that is never
(If you are calling
for change, can you position what you sell, advocate, or promote as something
that champions the future, vs. the idea, product, technology, or
service that is more like the receding roar of what is currently in
asks how will 21st Century Americans view outsiders? “For Donald Trump, the
metaphor is very clear: A wall. Outsiders are a threat and
a wall will keep them out.”…. For Jeb Bush, as [Bush] wrote in his own book,
“’When immigration policy is working right, it is like a
hydroelectric dam: a sturdy wall whose valves allow torrents of
water to pour through, creating massive amounts of dynamic energy.’ Under
this metaphor the outside world is not a threat; it’s a source of
creativity, dynamism and perpetual renewal.”
images with very different associations in our minds and very different
implications for immigration policy! What two images can you conjure for your
audiences to so clearly position your view?)
The last question
is: How does the Republican Party treat the distrust that is so pervasive in
our society? “…for some, this distrust is to be exploited. This produces
a kind of nihilism. Tear down. Oppose. Scorn. Shut down the government… The
other approach is to see distrust as a problem that can be reduced with
effective conservative governance…. Republicans in this camp view cynicism
as a poison to be drained, not a kerosene to be lit.”
metaphors are used here to underscore the different party approaches. What
images can you create to underscore different choices for your listener?)
The Power of Contrasting
Contrast creates a
greater understanding and appreciation of a thing in comparison to another
thing. Contrasting metaphors achieve that understanding with greater resonance
and staying power. Explanations slide by us. Contrasting metaphors stick.
Wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving with friends and family...
Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.
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with friends and colleagues. Thank you!
1. New podcast.
Bryon White, founder of
www.writeraccess.com and I get into
a lively discussion of why metaphors work. Hear it
2. New research.
Experts in Glasgow have now created the world’s first
online Metaphor Map, which contains
more than 14,000 metaphorical connections sourced from 4m pieces of lexical
data, some of which date back to 700AD. (And some people think metaphors
began with Shakespeare!)
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