Using Analogies is like Giving Yourself an Ink Blot Test – Written By Charles Yallowitz

Did the title work?  Maybe not, which is one of the challenges with analogies.  They’re like jokes in that they depend on the audience and don’t always hit their mark.  You can share an analogy that has one person nodding in agreement and another scratching their head in confusion.  Why is that?

Well, the big thing is that analogies require pre-existing knowledge.  I remember one from the animated X-Men that was ‘Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs’, which I’ve been told is a Southern expression.  Pretty simple to understand as long as you know what a cat and a rocking chair are.  You also need to know how painful that experience would be.  If you’re missing any of those elements, you’re going to have to explain what you meant.  Again, this is like a joke where it loses its impact if you have to explain it.

I’ve noticed that I use analogies a lot.  People may have picked up on that in comments over the years.  By analyzing myself, I tend to use an analogy for one of two reasons:

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