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NLP is one of the best, if not the best, models for understanding human communication, with proven techniques and processes to help you address what is holding you back.


By Roger Ellerton Phd, ISP, CMC, Renewal Technologies Inc.

A metaphor is an indirect way of communicating through a story or figure of speech. It may reveal the culture of an organization or the inner thoughts of an individual. It can also imply a comparison (be quiet as a mouse) or parallel the patterns of a problem to offer solutions or suggestions (a fairy tale: The Boy Who Cried Wolf). In NLP, a metaphor includes similes, parables and allegories and is rich in its ability to enhance communication.

Deep Structure of Thought

The deep structure of thought is based on inner feelings, memories, beliefs and values. This is revealed through our behaviours and for individuals is referred to as our personality and in organizations, we call it corporate culture.

At work you may hear an individual say 'We need some ammunition', 'put on your flak jacket', 'rally the troops', 'bring out the big artillery' or 'need to out flank them'. These are figures of speech and reveal the inner beliefs of an individual (i.e. work is seen as war) or if held by a group of people the culture of an organization or team. Other people may see work as a 'zoo' or life as something to be endured and their actions and words will reflect this. The metaphor you have for life, or work or home will colour how you see things, will surface in your behaviours and in the words you use, and will influence your interactions with others.

Understanding a person's or an organization's metaphor can provide insights to their inner feelings, memories, beliefs and values and provide you with an opportunity to be of assistance.

Working with Metaphors

If a person or organization finds that their metaphor is not serving them, it can be changed to trigger different ways of thinking or to see the issue from a different perspective. Instead of a war metaphor (indicating conflict), you may assist a team to change it to a sports metaphor (indicating competition). That is, 'move the ball forward', 'avoid being offside', 'need a big play'. Or you may wish to take a win-win perspective and see how each person can support the other. Changing metaphors often gives you new insights and opportunities to pursue and is a useful way to transfer learning or concepts between different contexts.

Communication with the Unconscious Mind

Metaphors communicate indirectly. An interesting story bypasses any conscious blocks or resistance and slips into the unconscious mind, where it triggers an unconscious search for meaning, resources and learnings. This is why fairy tales can have such a great impact on children. Metaphors are a good way of communicating with someone in a trance.

Metaphors can be developed for a general audience (e.g. presentation), or for a specific person. While listening to a metaphor, your unconscious mind will seek meaning and learnings appropriate for you.

Creating a Metaphor

A successful metaphor must first pace the client's current experience by using the same sequence of steps, representational systems and submodalities as his present state. The content does not have to be the same, in fact the more different and interesting the better. There needs to be a smooth transition to the desired state which will have its own sequence of steps, representational systems and submodalities.

And NLP is Much more than that!

Author: Roger Ellerton is a certified NLP trainer, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies. The above article is based on his book Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You.

Copyright © 2005, Renewal Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.

Books and ebooks by Roger Ellerton

Consider the following books and ebooks by Roger Ellerton.

NLP book: Live Your Dreams NLP book: 5 step action plan NLP book: Parents' Handbook NLP book: Win-Win Influence Self-Publish Your Book NLP and Personal Growth Thoughts Volume 1 Book: NLP Techniques Anyone Can Use
  • Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You covers all of the basic NLP material and is a great resource for coaches, managers and those wanting to learn NLP.
  • Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: 5 Step Action Plan provides a road map for achieving your goals or coaching others to do so.
  • Parent's Handbook: NLP and Common Sense Guide for Family Well-Being provides effective ways to improve your communication with your children and your children's communication with you, their teachers and friends. You will also learn how to support your children in school and elsewhere.
  • Win-Win Influence: How to Enhance Your Personal and Business Relationships provides proven processes for you to be the difference that makes the difference in creating better results in your life, career or any place two or more people gather.
  • Self-Publishing Your Book: A Guide for First-Time and DIY Authors shares insights and experiences based on my mistakes and lessons learned while writing and publishing eight books. This book is getting a little dated, however there are many ideas that you should find useful.
  • NLP and Personal Growth Thoughts: A Series of Articles by Roger Ellerton. Volumes 1 and 2 each contain 15 articles. Some articles will educate you on basic NLP concepts, while others will challenge your current way of thinking and how you view the world around you.
  • NLP Techniques Anyone Can Use provides ten typical NLP processes that illustrate the breadth and potential of NLP.

For more detailed information on these books, please click here.

These books are available through various online book retailers including Google Play and Amazon.