Friday, November 28, 2014

Mind-Bending Metaphors

In What is Metaphor and How Can Metaphor Resolve Problems and Conflicts? Thomas H. Smith wrote,"Metaphor is a primary way we frame, categorize and conceptualize... drawing attention to unnoticed similarities and connections, offering new ways to perceive and understand."

One of my clients wanted coaching on how to approach her landlord about necessary repairs to the house she was renting. She knew how to ask for what she wanted without attacking. But that didn't relieve her concern.

"I don't like confrontation," she said. "It's not fear, it's anger. I don't want to go into a rage. In my last e-mail I gave him the facts and said, 'I'm sick of it.' Now I dread looking for his e-mail response."

Operating on intuition, I asked, "If your landlord were an animal, what animal would he be?"

She answered without hesitation, "A hyena! They're scavengers, annoying, bottom-feeders, goofy-looking."

"And what animal represents you?" I asked.

"I'm a tiger. I may purr and be all kitty-cat, but If you piss me off I'll bare my teeth."

When we talked the following week, after her meeting with the landlord, she said, "It was kind of matter-of-fact. When he started pointing the finger at me, I was angry, but then I visualized him as a hyena, realized that was his M.O. to throw people off. And I was fine."