In 2002 I was busy combining ideas from NLP with TA and wrote about how we might think of our scripts as metaphors. The following are some extracts from an article I had published then (Hay, 2002).
What do these three have in common? They each have within them an implicit assumption that the speaker’s map of the world is the one that matters – they discourage the listener from even thinking about the underlying pre-suppositions within the statements. They have an hypnotic effect – the project manager is likely to find that people focus totally on time, probably at the expense of quality; the trainer finds that at least one participant in each group will become so nervous that they actually refuse to do the role-play at all; and the co-ordinator runs a scheme where the mentees’ distress at being refugees is compounded by culturally insensitive mentors.
We can get a better understanding of how the statements create the impact they do by considering them as metaphors and paradigms. A dictionary (Times, 2000) search for these labels gives us:
Our maps have more meaning than we may realise
In a metaphor, we substitute one thing for another, with all the connotations that brings. Metaphors add richness to our maps, enabling us to convey a lot of meaning in a few words. At the same time, our metaphors are representations of paradigms, in which exist some powerful but implicit boundaries. Again, the paradigm enables us to convey these boundaries in a few words. Put the two together and we create a map of the world that has much implicit meaning within it and clearly implied boundaries around it.
Taking our three examples:
We operate on numerous everyday metaphors and paradigms, generally without realising we are doing so because so many of them are shared.
Prompted by Molden (1996), we can identify several other models of time in addition to money:
Molden suggests that we could instead think of time as an investment, so that we focus on: planning how best to invest time; evaluating our gains from our use of time; building an investment portfolio comprising activities such as learning and developing, building relationships, enjoying life.
O’Connor (1998) provides examples related to leadership that conjure up some amusing imagery if you consider them literally: larger than life, on a pedestal, ahead of the field, hands-on, having the common touch, out of touch. Many organisations have ways of talking about different maps as if they equate to wars, with people using phrases such as: winning and losing, shooting down other’s arguments, attacking the weak points, being right on target, gathering ammunition. And how often have you been accused of moving the goal posts; throwing out the baby with the bath water; expecting to have your cake and eat it? Or had the advantages of being a high-flyer or star performer; operating on a level playing field; getting all the ducks in a row?
We often use metaphors to define ourselves; again these contain implicit limitations. At the professional level, we may consider ourself to be:
In Part 2 of this blog I will relate these ideas to life scripts (Berne, 1972; Steiner, 1974), to the six process scripts (Kahler, 1979), and to my 5E model.
Berne, Eric. (1972) What Do You Say After You Say Hello? New York: Grove Press
Hay, Julie (2002) Metaphors and Paradigms – Whose Map of the World? Organisations & People 9:4 2-8
Kahler, Taibi (1979) Process Therapy in Brief Little Rock, AR: Human Development Publications
Molden, David (1996) Managing with the Power of NLP London: Financial Times/Pitman Publishing
O’Connor, Joseph (1998) Leading with NLP London: Thorsons
Steiner, Claude (1974) Scripts People Live New York: Bantam
Times (2000) Times English Dictionary London: HarperCollins Publishers
© 2018 Julie Hay
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