The Persuasive Power of Analogy

An elderly man storms into his doctor’s office, steaming mad.
“Doc, my new 22-year-old wife is expecting a baby. You performed my vasectomy 30 years ago, and I’m very upset right now.”
“Let me respond to that by telling you a story,” the doctor calmly replies.
“A hunter once accidentally left the house with an umbrella instead of his rifle. Out of nowhere, a bear surprised him in the woods … so the hunter grabbed the umbrella, fired, and killed the bear.”
“Impossible,” the old man snaps back. “Someone else must have shot that bear.”
“And there you have it,” the doctor says.
Persuasion comes from understanding
At the heart of things, persuasion is about your audience understanding what you’re communicating. Understanding leads to acceptance when the argument is sound, well-targeted, and the conclusion seems unavoidable.
When it comes to creating effective understanding, analogies are hard to beat. Most of their persuasive power comes from the audience arriving at the intended understanding on their own.
The doctor could have simply said that the old man’s wife had to be cheating on him. But the analogy allowed the cranky patient to come to that conclusion on his own, which is much more persuasive.
Let’s take a second to make sure we’re all on the same page with analogies. It first helps to distinguish them from their close cousins, metaphor and simile.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses one thing to mean another and makes a comparison between the two. A simile compares two

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