Interpersonal Skill – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Want to have more motivated people? Want to have people more committed to ideas?

Well, have them generate their own metaphors and analogies!

Let me explain.

When working with someone (a subordinate, a team member, a student, a child, a colleague) it’s often better if they come up with their own ideas and solutions. The reason is that a self-generated idea is more powerful than one imposed on them. People are more committed to and motivated by their own ideas.

So if you have the vision of setting the standard in customer care, ask your colleagues or employees what this means to them. As they talk, listen to the words they use. Ask what success looks like for them, listen to the words they use. You’re listening for images, pictures, distinctive words, scenarios that they use to describe the ideal or success. Then have those individuals articulate a metaphor or analogy of their view – this will personalize your vision for each individual.

For example, on customer care in retail if someone starting describing success that led them to words like treating customers as guests in my home – having this metaphor is powerful. When they are doing their job you can ask ‘what are you doing to treat them as guests?’ to either reinforce good behaviour or have them reflect on potential improvements. Metaphors and analogies also provide a short cut to a feeling or behaviour by bridging emotional and rational.

Use the words of your colleagues/employees when talking to them, those words mean more to them than your words mean. Your job is to bridge your vision to them so they can personalize it and own it.

When thinking of your vision of success, what picture, image, or words come to mind for you?