How to torture your employee by using unnecessary analogies

Dear Employee,

We need to figure out who our direct competitors are so we can rise above them. Let me give you an analogy: it’s like if you were a crab-fisherman and you didn’t know where the crabs lived, you’d never catch any crabs because you wouldn’t know where to look, but if you know where to look because you know how crabs live then you could catch all the crab you want.


Dear Boss,

You had me at “We need to figure out who our direct competitors are.”


Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

There’s a movie coming out about you called The Bloviator. A man tries to save the world with his meaningless speeches only to alienate himself from the very world he’s trying to save. Save the analogies for concepts that are truly confusing. Simple obvious ideas don’t require further explanation.


Maybe Try this Instead?

If the other person doesn’t ask for clarification and even says something like “OK, got it” then leave it be. Pay attention to nonverbal cues like body language, facial expressions, etc to be aware if your message is getting across. A listener’s eyes might be open but their brain is somewhere else. If you’re ignoring nonverbal cues you might just like to hear yourself talk, in which case you could record an audio book and try to shop it around.

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Nicole Lipkin, Psy.D., MBA is an organizational psychologist and the CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. She is the author of “What Keeps Leaders Up At Night” and the co-author of “Y in the Workplace: Managing the ‘Me First’ Generation.”