Today I'm writing this post from Dublin airport, I'm about to cross the pond to spend a couple of days with my American work colleagues.

Crossing the pond, interesting expression. It's one of the many metaphors we use every day.

Close up of a red flower floating on the surface of a pond

According to Wordreference, one of the definitions of metaphor is a "Rhetorical way of describing another object or thing by suggesting a comparison of it to something else, but without using the word 'like'' or 'as''". Explained like this, it may seem a bit complicated, but the truth is that we use metaphors all day long, very often without noticing that they are, for example...

  • Me encontraba entre la espada y la pared
  • He was kicked out of there
  • I'm starving

And so many others.

Metaphors help us to explain life situations in a way that's easy to understand, and they don't only work outwards, when we speak with others, they also work inwards, in our inner dialogue. Sometimes we find it easier to connect with an emotion when we "give it a shape" through a metaphor, and that way we can even draw it, if it helps 🙂

And when we're facing a problem or a difficult situation, playing with metaphors can help us a lot in terms of changing perspective and looking for alternatives. For example, if a person is feeling that every time they try a particular thing they bang their head against a wall, they may even visualize that wall in their mind when they think in whatever it is they want to try, and get blocked. Following along with the metaphor, we could ask, where is that wall? What is it made of? How high is it? And what's behind it? In which other way could you get there? And then maybe this way, exploring ways to jump over the wall, or go around it, or even break it, this person may come to a realization and find solutions that they wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

Metaphors are also very interesting to think of when reflecting on some aspect of our life, or our work. This is often done in Agile methodologies, as part of team retrospectives: "if our last two weeks had been a movie, which movie would it be, and why?" Once we add that touch of creativity and humour to the conversation, it's amazing how much can come out of there.

So this week I'm proposing two things for you to do this week, if you feel like it: one is to listen with extra attention to see how many metaphors you find around you, and the other one is to find your own metaphor: if today you were a colour, which colour would you be?

Leave a Reply