The Uncanny Valley of Communication

Uncanny Valley graph (updated)

Uncanny Valley graph (updated) (Photo credit: Elif Ayiter/Alpha Auer/…./)

Here’s a fascinating question. How aware do you have to be that you’re being sold a bill of goods before you put up your defenses and refuse to buy it?

Who hasn’t been swayed—or at least tempted—by a cleverly-worded (or hip-looking) ad, choosing one product over another even while knowing they were probably about to pay a premium for something that wasn’t objectively any better than anything else? Or for something they didn’t really need at all?

Good old Shakespeare took this up (sort of) in one of his most famous sonnets, which has the fabulous opening lines:

When my love swears to me that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies.

As the sonnet goes on to explain, much more gracefully than I’m about to, the speaker is a bit long in years, but is flattered that his girlfriend assumes he’s young enough to believe her nonsense. She, in turn, is pleased that he believes her (even though, presumably, she knows he doesn’t, really).

It all leads up to the closing couplet, complete with Elizabethan sexual innuendo:

Therefore I lie with her and she with me
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.

Altogether a stunning sonnet, but that’s not why I include it here. There’s a lesson, or at least a thought experiment, in this for us contemporary writers of somewhat (ok, a whole lot) less creative copy.

The sonnet popped into my head when I was pondering the question I began with. How is it that I can watch or read an ad or listen to a sales pitch, knowing full well the message has been artfully crafted to draw me in, and still find myself drawn in? How is it that I can sit in front of a schmaltzy movie, listen cynically to the swelling music, and still feel my eyes fill with tears?

And how, if at all, does this phenomenon relate to our work as internal communicators?

I spend a lot of time in this blog and elsewhere promoting my belief that when employee communications aren’t honest they lose all credibility. I moan about the misuse of words like “challenge” and “opportunity” to mean “problem” and “weakness.”

And yet, I also believe in the power of words to create actual concrete change in the world. After all, that’s the theory behind much of what’s often derisively called “political correctness.” Gender-neutral language, for example: as a woman who can remember a world in which “he” was still considered a universal designation for humans of either sex, I can attest firsthand to the power language can have to affect not only our feelings but our understanding and beliefs.

So it seems to me there is a line to watch for, especially when you’re conveying not-so-happy news: on one side is language that is aspirational—it paints the best possible picture of any given situation—and on the other side is, well, BS. There’s nothing wrong with trying to put your message in the best light, as long as you don’t step over that line.

People in the world of animation speak of the “uncanny valley.” The idea is that as animation has gotten more and more realistic-looking, it sometimes reaches a point where it falls off a cliff into creepy. The story goes that when the folks at Dreamworks first tested Shrek with a group of children, the kids were terrified. The animators had made the princess character so realistic that she looked almost human, but at the same time she was missing some essential element of humanness. The result was monstrous, in the eyes of these kids, and the animators had to backtrack, re-creating her character in a purposefully less realistic manner.

So, here is the challenge (yes, I’m using the word correctly) for internal communicators—really, for all communicators: get as close to the edge as you dare, but don’t fall into the uncanny valley of communication. In our case, it probably won’t actually scare your audience, but it will scare them away.

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Is Writing Dead?

Death

Photo credit: tanakawho

I was talking to someone recently about some possibilities for presentation topics at a conference. She’d suggested a few options relating to work-life communications or social media. I said, “What I’d really love to do is a writing workshop.”

“Writing?” she asked. “Who writes anymore?”

I sort of understood what she meant. When we talk about communications, about media—social and otherwise—we’re all encouraged to think in grand terms: video, tweets, Powerpoint, info-graphics, podcasts, etc. And it’s true that any twenty-first century communications plan does have to include at least some of these media. But I still get most of my information from the written word—don’t you?

I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter, but mostly because I’ve discovered what a good source it can be of links to articles elsewhere. If I need to research a topic, or am seeking some “how-to” information, I start with Google, just like everyone else. I don’t reach for a book or head to the library. But nearly every Google search leads to written web content, a PDF, or a book.

I know we all have different favorite ways of getting our information, but I’ll bet there are plenty of others like me who, when finding that a search result links to a video, click away and move on to another link that will give me the information in writing. If I want to know how to do something, or learn more about a topic, I don’t have the patience to watch a video. A video organizes the information for me, in a way I may not want it organized, forcing me to wade through a lot of stuff I’m not interested in without being sure I’ll find the information I do want. I want a piece of text that I can search, skim, or read end to end, as I please. I want to control the pace, not have someone else’s idea of pacing fed to me in video form.

Anyway, not to put too fine a point on it, even if you are taking in your information (or putting it out) in the form of a video, podcast, or PSA, someone still has to write it first.

It’s the new year, progress marches ever forward (I suppose) but words remain timeless. Don’t be deluded by technology—whether your audience is going to find you by linking from a Tweet or from Facebook, read you on an iPhone or a Nook, or listen to you through iTunes, in the end, you generally have only words to get your point across. Remember that at one time a printed book was a technical innovation. But it still made use of the same communication building blocks used by the ancient oral poets and the monastic scribes that came before: words.

No matter how you cut it, you need words to communicate, and to communicate effectively you have to know how to use those words effectively.

Writing lives!

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Happy New Year: This blog in review: 2012

While I’ve been busy baking cookies and catching up on my bookkeeping, the folks at WordPress have been pulling together a 2012 annual report for this blog. It’s kind of fun–especially the number of countries represented among my readers! Take a look…

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Reflections on the Lowly ‘Graph

I’ve been thinking about paragraphs.

Increasingly, I find my paragraphs devolving into single sentences, like the one above. Surely this isn’t how I was taught? I remember concepts like: “A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic.”

I remember something about a topic sentence, followed by at least three sentences to support it.

I remember something about indenting, too.

When I write now, though, I usually just work on one paragraph until it seems like it’s time to go on to the next. As with so much else in writing, I don’t think about it a whole lot. So I’ve been thinking, do those rules I was taught still apply?

I looked it up.

It turns out the statement above, “a paragraph is a collection of related sentences…etc,” can be found in the Purdue Online Writing Lab, known to fans (like me) everywhere as the “Purdue OWL.” . (All right. I copied it from there.) The OWL is an excellent resource for basic information about grammar and writing conventions. So I must assume it is right in this case. In fact, I recommend checking out the link if you’re at all confused about paragraphing, because I’m here to say it contains some highly useful information.

For instance, it also addresses the topic sentence/supporting sentence structure question. And it turns out to be more lenient than my junior high teachers were on the subject, saying:

Although not all paragraphs have clear-cut topic sentences, and despite the fact that topic sentences can occur anywhere in the paragraph (as the first sentence, the last sentence, or somewhere in the middle), an easy way to make sure your reader understands the topic of the paragraph is to put your topic sentence near the beginning of the paragraph.

But, despite what the OWL says, I’m still not convinced a paragraph is always defined by its subject matter anymore. At least not in the case of online content.

Because here’s what’s happened since I went to junior high. Actually, since way after I went to junior high, but let’s not dwell on that. Most of the written matter I consume has migrated to a 14” screen. Or way smaller. And, not the least bit coincidentally, my attention span has diminished dramatically, along with, I suspect, the attention span of just about every other sentient being. This last phenomenon, I think we can agree, is a direct result of the ease with which we can (and do) switch among reading matters, pause for some viewing matter, stop to change Pandora channels, get interrupted by the chirp of a new text message, etc.

(Speaking of short attention spans, I was bemused to hear that one of my literary heroes, Philip Roth, had announced his retirement. Can a writer retire? Really? But I was also fascinated, horrified and just a little relieved to read  that he—even he— claims to now spend a good amount of time daily playing with his iPhone.)

Ok, where was I? Paragraphs.

I submit that on paper, paragraphs have a dual function. They organize ideas into discrete, content-driven bundles. And they make text easier on the eye. Paragraphs on a screen have the same dual function, with this important difference: thanks to all the myriad distractions inherent in getting information from a screen, easier on the eye moves from a secondary to a primary function of paragraphs.

In other words, when you’re writing for a screen, your paragraphs need to be short. And shorter.

Often, they will be one sentence.

Or less.

And even with short paragraphs, you may still need to guide your harassed reader down the page with judicious use of boldface, bullets and other such tricks.

You still need to think of organizing information according to subject, just as you were taught. But you also have to think in terms of organizing according to visual appeal.

Oh, and about those indents. They’re still doing it in books and newspapers. My kids are still doing it at school. But I sure haven’t seen a whole lot of evidence of indented paragraphs on the small screen. My guess is indents just make it harder to take in information, and are easily replaced by judicious use of line spacing.

The application for next year’s Working Mother 100 Best Companies list is due to be released this week. Need some pointers? Download my free tip sheet, or just contact me and I’ll be glad to take your questions: 718-628-4753.

Dare I Blame the Turkey?

Too many things going on right now! As I was rushing to publish my last post, I found several typos, and felt smug in the knowledge I’d corrected them. Alas. One of my readers was kind enough to let me know I’d missed some (she even corrected them for me over the phone, as I was nowhere near a computer by then. Thanks, Wendy!)

So, apologies for the sloppy text, and if you’d haven’t yet read today’s post and would like to see it in a (hopefully) typo-free state, you can read the corrected version here.

Some Tasty Links for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for all the smart folks out there writing about writing.

Back in a much earlier life I briefly studied photography, and one of my favorite practitioners was a guy named Duane Michals. If your idea of great photography is precision of structure, perfect lighting and gorgeous darkroom technique, a la Ansel Adams, Michals’s photographs weren’t much to look at. But they were rich in evocative imagery—his work of the time nearly always told a story. (He’s still out there making pictures but I haven’t kept up with his work, so I can’t speak to what he’s doing now.) He often strung together sequences of images, sometimes even adding scrawled words.

Maybe because even then I was a better writer than a photographer, I loved his work. And I still remember an anecdote he told in an interview I read. He used to run into someone regularly—I’m thinking maybe it was a guy who worked at his gym–who was an amateur photographer . The man was always trying to engage him in conversation about equipment and technique. Michals reported he would listen to this guy chat on about f-stops and filters and then finally stop him and say, “I’m sorry, Joe, but I don’t understand what  you’re talking about.”

Telling a good story is not a matter of fancy formatting or elaborate technique. Over the years, trying to make my way through mind-numbing pieces of corporate text, I often find Duane’s voice in my head: “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” Which is why I laughed when I came across this blog. It’s a bit old, already, but well worth the read.

Sometimes I’m asked what “telling a story” really means in the practical world of business communications. Which is why I was pleased to come across a simple, strong example at a business conference a few weeks ago. To illustrate one of her points, a speaker was describing the trajectory of her own business. She needed to explain that a key moment happened when her husband lost his job. But instead of just saying, “then my husband lost his job,” she said something like this:

“My husband worked from home. One day,  we were both at home working when he got a call from his boss, asking him to come into the office: something that had never happened before. It turned out, my husband had lost his job.”

This presenter was wise enough to add just a few simple sentences and instead of an abstract fact, we have the man, the home, the family. The lost job suddenly has context, and with that comes a whole lot more meaning.  Here’s an even older post than the last one, but another thing to be thankful for (at least sometimes)  is that things live on forever on the web:

I was planning to add a few more links-to-chew-on, but a third thing I can be thankful for this season is that I have almost too much work to do, plus some delicious down time with family and friends ahead. So that’s it for now. Have a wonderful holiday!

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How Will It All End?

Beginnings are nerve-wracking. Middles can be tricky. But the highest circle of writing misery, in my book, resides in figuring out how to close. Ever since the days of high school essays, I’ve hated writing conclusions.

In conventional essay writing, the role of the conclusion is to summarize. But if what I’m writing is a page or two long, as it generally is, I’m pretty sure I can count on my readers to retain and synthesize what I’ve just said. Saying it again is simply redundant—and boring. (I had an English teacher who once warned that any paper sporting a last paragraph that began, “Thus we see” would be stamped with an automatic “F.”)

Besides, in non-academic writing, like journalism and blogging (including content for employee newsletters, magazines and blogs), conclusions aren’t necessarily expected to summarize. The role they play is vaguer—just a kind of tidying up, providing a little closure.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a piece you’re working on will flow naturally to just the right ending. You  might have gotten the perfect quote or the ideal anecdote that sums it all up. For example, if you’re writing about a new program your company is introducing, you could end with a quote that takes it into the future:

Gisela Simone, Senior VP of New Business Strategies, summarized what many senior leaders apparently feel about the new Speed Processing Interactive Terminal program, saying, “I have every confidence in SPIT. It’s going to revolutionize our ability to react to negative events.”

Depending on the piece, you also might be able to end by winding back to the beginning. As I wrote way back in March, starting a piece with the human side of a story is a great way to draw readers in. If your employee newsletter article begins like this…

When Hank Dinsmore, Regional Marketing Director, needs background information for a product, he generally calls the LuceBoltz reference librarian, or takes a hike up to the 6th floor library, himself. If the librarian has the information he needs on hand—great—if not, Hank completes an acquisition form to order the reference document and puts aside his project until it arrives.

“It’s time-consuming at best,” says the veteran LuceBoltz employee, “And it’s frustrating, since I know that information is out there.”

But things are about to get a whole lot better for Hank. Thanks to Air Literature, our new online aircraft research database, Hank will be able to locate and download the information he needs within minutes, straight from his desk. So will every other employee at LuceBoltz.

 …your ending is practically written for you:

As for Hank, he’s already making a list of the work he’ll be able to catch up on in his newly freed up time, once Air Literature is up and running.

Another option, if you’re writing in a relatively casual format, is to end with a play on words or other bit of humor. I’ve noticed this is a favorite ploy of NPR reporters—so much so that I can often predict the last sentence of a piece I’m listening to. For example, one reporter summed up a story about the presidential candidates’ break from campaigning during last week’s hurricane in this way:

That’s not say the political campaign is completely on hold. People tuning in to storm coverage are likely to see a flood—of political ads.

Yet another idea, especially if you’re writing on-line, is to end with a question or other invitation to respond:

What are some of your ideas?

How have you dealt with xyz in the past?

How do you use the Cat Cab program?

Because I, myself, have so much trouble ending articles and posts, I try to keep a close eye on how others do it. But what’s fascinating is that I often forget to notice. That’s because in a strong piece of writing, the conclusion doesn’t stand out as something apart from the rest of the story. It’s such a natural progression from the rest of the piece that it just flows to a natural close.

It’s a goal to aspire to. But sometimes, I just give up and let a piece of writing dangle, without

Is your employee newsletter boring? Is your web content stale? Contact me to get your communications doing the job you need them to do. Remember,you can’t connect if you can’t tell your story.

What’s in a Word: Sandy Pulls Me Back to Earth

Outside Our Door, Ridgewood, Queens

I’m writing this post from my home office in southwestern Queens, where we’ve been lucky. A couple of uprooted and scarily teetering trees on the street, spotty cell phone service and a complete breakdown of the transportation we rely on to get to school and work—but other than that, my family has survived Superstorm Sandy relatively unscathed.

We’ve barely left the house between Sunday (when we made a critical run to Blockbuster) and this morning—Wednesday–when I unearthed the car to drive my husband to work (normally an easy subway ride). And, since we’ve had power the whole time, we’ve listened to a lot of radio, watched some TV and surfed—and surfed again—on the web. We’ve picked up messages from friends in lower Manhattan as, one by one, they reported power outages that we now know may take days or longer to fix. The people I’ve spoken to, images I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard remind me what the word “disaster” really means.

I say this because “disaster” happens to be a word I throw around a lot. I look around one of my kids’ rooms—or my office—and say, “This place is a disaster!” I get stuck in rush-hour traffic and cry, “What a disaster!” My internet goes down and I howl, “It’s a disaster!”

Needless to say, none of these situations are disastrous. My father grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and owned a house in a neighboring town until just a few years ago. Looking at footage of splintered chunks of the city’s famous boardwalk floating down city streets, I saw disaster.

And so, for a brief while now, I’ll have a new appreciation for this particular bit of hyperbole. The meaning and power of words is always grounded in the reality that those words are meant to describe. It’s good to be reminded of that sometimes.

To hearken back to a much-worse disaster, in terms of lives lost and world-wide reverberations, my family lived close to lower Manhattan on 9/11—we were on East 20th Street, which was much farther from the towers than the homes of many of our friends, but close enough to feel personally affected. One of the things that stood out for me at the time was the noise of sirens, and the sight of fire trucks roaring through the streets. (It contrasted, especially, with an otherwise eerie quiet on the ground and in the skies.)

My children were very young then and a few weeks after the attack we were (coincidentally) visiting Atlantic City. We were sitting in a diner when a fire truck pulled up in front. My immediate reaction was to reach for the kids. I wanted to somehow shield them from the sight of the truck, which in the moment I associated simply with menace. I remember thinking how shocking it was that not long ago parents like me would point out fire trucks to children as objects of excitement and even fun.

What does this have to do with words? It’s something to do with the slippery nature of meaning. An image that is filled with positive connotations (at least from a kid’s perspective) can change in a matter of minutes to a symbol of something adult and grave–something to protect our children from.

If I had come across a fire truck-related metaphor in those early days after 9/11, it likely would have affected me very differently from the way the author intended: changed, for the moment at least, from a candy-colored emblem of heroism to an omen of disaster.

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Just Call Me The Woman With the Hammer

You know the saying, “To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail?” It came to mind last week when I was at the Working Mother Work Life Congress, an annual conference built around the release of the magazine’s  famous “100 Best Companies” list. Sure, people were there to talk about work-life, but as a communications professional, everything I heard seemed to be about communication.

It’s not surprising, really, because ultimately a lot of what makes work engaging and do-able for people who have lives outside of it comes down to good communication. Since it’s National Work and Family Month, let me show you what I mean:

When keynote speaker Beverly Kaye, Founder and Co-CEO of Career Systems International, spoke about employee development, a lot of what she had to say was a case for more communication.  Kaye was referring to spoken communication between managers and those they manage, but many of her comments could also apply to the ways companies communicate to employees, in general (or don’t).

Take her “five myths” that prevent managers from talking with employees about their careers. At least three of these (paraphrased below) are widely used by senior leaders in companies as an excuse for not sharing crucial information with employees:

  • If I open the discussion, it will be a Pandora’s Box. (The truth is, your employees are talking about it already. You’re not releasing anything into the world that isn’t already there. You’re just bringing it out into the open and providing yourself with a chance for input.)
  • Employees own their own careers—it’s not my job to give them the answers. (The truth is, employees don’t generally expect definitive answers—they just want support and information.)
  • I can’t deliver on their desire to move up the career ladder, so talking about it will just lead to disappointment. (The truth is, not everybody aspires to move up. Employees want jobs they care about—“meaning is the new money,” as Kaye says. Translated to more general employee communications: don’t second guess what your audience wants to hear. Be open in what you say and be open to hearing what they say, too—what they want and need might surprise you.)

In a break-out session, Suzanne Vickberg, Senior Manager for Inclusion at Deloitte, spoke about data forensics—specifically, how to use data about your workforce to tell a story that demonstrates the value of work-life programs to leadership. Here (again paraphrased) are some of the points she made:

  • Most companies already collect data about their employees. By connecting these data in thoughtful ways, you can tell a strong story. For example, connect data from last year’s talent survey to current attrition rates—how do what employees said about their work-life balance correlate with whether they’re still with the company a year later? Through an analysis like this, Vickberg’s team was able to show leadership at Deloitte that addressing employee concerns about work-life fit had six times the impact on retention as addressing concerns about pay.
  • Numbers don’t mean much in isolation. Find ways to bring them to life. By way of example, Vickberg  showed a chart that used proportionately-sized dots to illustrate the dramatic difference in effect on turnover among a variety of factors. A small thing—but a big effect on communication.
  • Speak the language of your audience. For example, if you’re reporting to leadership in finance, talk about the relative cost to the business of providing work-life policies and programs and losing employees.
  • Understand what will and will not be heard. If you are addressing the problem of workload, recommendations that workload simply be reduced are unlikely to go very far. But you can probably use the same data to show how much better employees are able to manage their workload when they have control over where and when that work gets done.
  • Respect your data—it might not always tell the story you expect it to tell, but chances are it does have something to say.

Finally, keynote speaker Patrick O’Neill, President of Extraordinary Conversations, introduced the “Rule of 13.” Describing the vital role clear communications play in strong leadership, O’Neill said leaders should be able to state the vision behind any initiative in 13 words or less—and the statement should be “understandable to your teenager.”

For example? There’s the head of an entertainment company whose 12 words–“One of every five CDs sold will be sold in our stores”—helped take his company from $28 million to $200 million in three years.

There’s the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, which laid it on the line in 5: “Conquering cancer in our lifetime.” (Admittedly, this begs the question: “whose lifetime?)

And then there’s another guy you might have heard about, who said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade.”

Hmmm.. wonder how that one turned out?

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Exercising Your Metaphor Muscle

My niece recently spent a few weeks in South Korea, sending home evocative missives about her travels. In one email, she likened a short, uncomfortable flight she took to an island to being shot out of a slingshot. She kept the metaphor alive paragraphs later, when she described the return trip: “it was sad to leave, but we sling-shotted back to Seoul…” Can anyone fail to imagine what that flight felt like?

Metaphors are not just the tools of novelists and poets. They’re an essential part of every writer’s toolkit. And they have magical powers:

  • Metaphors have the power to take the abstract and make it concrete. Think of them as the verbal equivalent of a really good diagram.
  • Metaphors can be a kind of shorthand. A metaphorical sentence, phrase or single word can fill in for a paragraph or more of description.
  • Best of all, metaphors are sticky. When done well, they seem to hang around in your head a whole lot longer than straightforward information.

I should explain that when I say “metaphor” I’m using the term loosely, to encompass similes, as well. Remember the difference? Metaphors imply a comparison, without saying it outright, as in: “All the world’s a stage.” Similes use “like” or “as” to make the comparison explicit, as in “My love is like a red, red rose.” But for our purposes, as workplace communicators, they both come down to the same thing: making information more accessible—getting our point across.

One of the e-newsletters I subscribe to is called “The Metaphor Minute,”  from sales consultant Anne Miller. Each monthly issue promotes the use of metaphor in communications—especially business communications. Among other things, Miller collects and shares examples of ways people have aced presentations and clinched sales simply by harnessing the power of metaphor. I always read these examples, as well as pay close attention to metaphors whenever and wherever I come across them, because I’ve discovered that making a good metaphor isn’t easy. It’s especially hard in informational communications, where extravagant metaphors can be out of place. (It’s harder to create a more subdued, natural-sounding metaphor.) Nonetheless, it’s a skill that can be developed with practice. I know this because I’ve found the more I write, the more metaphors pop, unbidden, into my head.

If metaphors aren’t yet popping into your head, here’s how I’d go about hunting them down:

  • Start by pinpointing the exact feeling, situation, characteristic, etc., you want to compare to something else.
  • Next make a list of everything you can think of that represents the same feeling, situation or characteristic. Trying to capture “fast?” Make a list of things that go fast: cheetahs, sports cars, rockets, light… Trying to capture “high-quality?” Rolls Royce, Rembrandt, Stradivarius… Trying to make a comparison? List some like-minded comparisons: McDonald’s vs. Lutece; Big Wheels vs. a racing bike; Manhattan, Kansas vs. Manhattan, New York.
  • Take it a step further. For more original metaphors, stretch the comparison to things that go fast only sometimes: a kid chasing an ice cream truck; a mouse fleeing a cat; a horse in the Kentucky Derby. For corporate prose, you may end up backing down from these more elaborate phrasings, but it’s still a good way to exercise your metaphor-finding muscle.
  • Eliminate the clichés. Metaphors repeated too often become clichés and clichés lose most—if not all—of their magical powers. (Does anyone think “fruit-filled pastry” when they hear “easy as pie?”)
  • Finally—and this holds especially true for informational communications—see if you can tamp down the metaphor into a simple, quieter phrase. You might not want to say “this new system will make your work flow faster than a sprinter on steroids” but you can certainly say, “this new system will make your work flow at Olympic speeds.”

And while you’re practicing, keep a watchful eye and ear out for metaphors around you. When you find one that really works for you—maybe it clarifies something definitively, maybe it sums up something perfectly, maybe it just sticks with you—take the time to consider why it works so well. Building your metaphor muscle is like any other kind of training regimen—you can learn a lot by listening to the pros.

 

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It’s National Work and Family Month. Do you know where your work-life programs are? Funny—I’ve just blogged on that very topic in the Huffington Post.