NLP – Metaphors

In NLP a metaphor is a story used to illustrate an important point or an idea. They are an effective way to increase the effectiveness of communicating with the listener. Metaphors can highlight hopes, beliefs, fears, and solutions. They offer a way to speak about ideas that the listener would be consciously resistant to because a story is much less confrontational than a direct statement. Metaphors also help the listener to invent their own solutions by capturing their imagination and provoking them to look at the situation from another perspective or even to do something that they might otherwise not try.

Story-telling is an old tool, and metaphors have been used throughout history. Just think of “The Ugly Duckling”. The listener identifies with the transformation that is taking place, and it doesn’t matter that it is about a fantasy character. The reason metaphors are so effective is that they connect with both the listener’s conscious and unconscious. They engage the right brain because they are symbolic and inform. The listener identifies with a key character, which then helps them to accept the message of the story. That’s why stories and metaphors are easy for the unconscious mind to remember, even if facts and explanations may cause the listener’s mind to wander from the subject.

Here is a way to use metaphors:

Choose or create a metaphor your listener can relate to, taking into account the context in which you’re telling it.

Relate each feature of the idea you are selling to a feature in the story. Do this by using your listener’s preferred representational system and by using positive language.

If the listener has a question about the idea you’re expressing, include that question in the story (for instance by being asked by a character) and then provide an answer to that question in the story.