Speaking metaphorically … works

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance. – Aristotle

There is an ongoing debate in the aviation world over whether private jet carriers should pony up more dollars to support the air traffic control system. Currently, airlines cover 90 percent of the cost of the system but only operate 75 percent of the flights.

Sounds like the airlines may have point, right? Not so fast.

Check out how two industry associations on either side of the issue frame the debate:

John Heimlich, Air Transport Association: “If you are using FAA controlled airspace then you should contribute basically in some proportion to the number of flights you have.”

Your reaction to his straight fact-based statement is probably along the lines of, “Sure, I agree.”

Ed Bolen, National Business Aviation Association: “The cost of the system is driven by the airlines. This reminds me a bit of when you go to a restaurant and someone orders the most expensive items on the menu and then says, “let’s divide it up evenly.”

If your reaction to the second statement is anything like mine, you probably had a visceral response of, “Darnit, I hate when that happens.”

Everyone likes to espouse facts and statistics. But you can make a much more compelling case by using metaphorical narrative that everyone can relate to.

Game on!

Ed Bolen and the National Business Aviation Association: 1
John Heimlich and the Air Transport Association: 0

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