Jackie Kellso

Archive for January, 2021|Monthly archive page

Bad Metaphors Can Kill a Conversation

In analogies, communicating, communication, communication skills, culture, delivering a powerful message, diplomacy and tact, improve communication, interpersonal skills, metaphors, pick your brain, psychology, self-awareness, similes, speaking, Uncategorized on January 5, 2021 at 9:21 pm

There are many ways to skin a cat. We can kill two birds with one stone. I’d like to pick your brain. It’s a dog eat dog world. Don’t leave me hanging. We understand culturally what these metaphors represent, but have we considered that they reference violence?

Just last week a client of mine was explaining a training technique he uses for his students and explained how ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’ when it comes to teaching. I hadn’t heard that expression in a long time and I felt myself cringe. Being a cat lover – an animal lover – I immediately pictured a cat being skinned and cut him off. “Do you like cats?” I asked. “Yes, I love them,” he said. I replied, “Great, then think about that image for a second.” He laughed and said, “Wow, I never even thought about it.” Then he said, “Well, can I pick your brain about how to rephrase this?” YIPES! So I said, “Yes, you can ask me a question, and there are multiple ways to complete a task. How about those as examples?”

We have these sayings that are out-dated, but we use them without even thinking about it. Some may think me too sensitive, but my guess is that if we all stop and think about what we’re saying, and how others might react, we will stop using these phrases and explore new, safer ways of communicating.

Analogies, similes and metaphors are brilliant ways to ensure that our listeners understand our messages and their meanings. Just beware that some familiar sayings may leave people with a bad taste in their mouths.

Mindfully yours,


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