Sunday, January 31, 2010

High Impact Communication Techniques: Adopting Metaphorical Language Used by Others; To be the "Mountain Goat" of Something

Reference my blog of yesterday about President Obama using the term “Bolshevik plot” metaphorically during his Q&A session with the Republicans, and the term being widely quoted in the media. That is a perfect example of how all of us can enlarge our vocabulary of stirring and impactful terms by adopting somebody’s imaginative metaphor, simile, or other analogy.

Take for instance the term Bolshevik which is not commonly heard metaphorically, even though the Bolshevik Revolution is pretty common knowledge. Well, Obama’s use of Bolshevik this past Friday, and the resulting laughter among the audience and flutter in the media, reminded me how evocative and how strong a term of opprobrium it is in Western democracies, and immediately suggested to me that it would be a wonderful addition to my arsenal of metaphorical terms, especially when using the technique of exaggeration to create humor.

Specific examples of how I expect to use it in the near future: when referring to someone in the third person who is sort or rebellious or borders on being a bit of a revolutionary as “Oh, that guy is a Bolshevik.” Or, I could tamp down people’s anxieties following some tumultuous happening or political upset by saying “Come on, this is not the Bolshevik Revolution or something. They will recover.”

I am constantly picking up imaginative terms from the few talking heads who are extremely articulate and who regularly grace radio and television, and so can you. I refer to people such as George Will, featured every Sunday on “ABC This Week,” and Mark Shields, who appears on “PBS News Hour” at least once a week. Several months ago, I heard Shields describe a politician as “He is extremely surefooted, never makes a mistake. He is the mountain goat of politics.” Beat that for evocativeness! I have since used the term “mountain goat” metaphorically several times, and always elicited laughter from my audience.

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