The 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 tell 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 says. “Someone else must have shot that bear.”

“You got it,” the doctor replies.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of DIY Themes, creator of the innovative Thesis Theme for WordPress. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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  1. Story telling is a good way to get across an idea. I believe most people are more comfortable with images than words. To share an idea with readers via storytelling can be much more persuasive than say writing the point down.

    Though with that said, creating and writing a story to present an idea, share knowledge is much more time consuming than merely pointing and sharing knowledge via reasoning.

  2. Bravo.

    Short but sharp.

  3. Very comment attracting post! I remember one of Brian’s published post tell something about writing short snappy post. I think this is the result of that. This post is very short but very snappy and well delivered to readers.

  4. Fantastic! I love it!

    The great thing about analogies is that you can use them, as in this story, to prompt others to reach a conclusion without you telling them what their conclusion should be. This makes it a very powerful tool of persuasion since people are a lot more likely to give weight something that feels like it’s their own idea than to someone else flapping their gums at them.

  5. You write hundreds of awesome posts but you see, this post got me writing you a comment!

  6. Tobkin, you got it. 😉

  7. That’s awesome that the doctor tells a story inside the story. Fun post and much deeper than it appears on the surface.

  8. It grabbed me too! I just had to comment. The post is message within a message within a message. Bravo 😉

  9. Nice, very nice :)

    I agree, analogies are a powerful tool. I use them often when trying to explain something that the other has difficulty grasping, or simply doesn’t want to hear.

  10. Old, but gold story. :)

  11. Now that’s the way to do it!!! Bravo.

  12. cool one 😀

  13. What I find nifty is the little hit you get when you get the joke–think about re-creating that for your readers. It’s much more enjoyable to put the message together for ourselves than to have it spelled out.

  14. For different reasons (not an analogy, but an associated story), this reminds me of the two old Florida boys, Jimmy and John.

    They were sitting on the front porch talking about the huntin’ trip John was going on in the Fall, when John’s wife came out an brought refreshments.

    “She a handsome woman, John,” Jimmy said.

    “Mmmm hmm,” said John, who was a bit taciturn.

    “Let me ask you a hypothetical question,” said Jimmy. “If I got your wife pregnant while you were out hunting, and you thought the kid was yours, what would that make me?”

    John considered a moment and said, “Even.”

  15. Love analogies!

    This one grabs your heart first, then your head, and last but not least… your gut. Analogies make it easier to say what you need to say without saying it. Well done!

    Also, as Kosmo says, “I use them often when trying to explain something that the other has difficulty grasping, or simply doesn’t want to hear.”

  16. hey, nice think you gave me. thanks

  17. Lol!

    When I first read the joke, I missed the point. I though the man was upset with his wife cheating on him… LOL!

  18. please excuse my ignorance…but what is the moral of this story?

  19. I laughed hard, It was short and sweet, and made a solid point. Good show.

  20. The moral of the story in my opinion is “things aren’t always as they seem.”

    The old man is upset, mostly at the doctor, because that very doctor had given him a vasectomy 30 years ago. His wife is pregnant and he thinks the doctor screwed up. It never dawned on him that his wife might be cheating.

    That’s why I think the moral of this story is: Things aren’t always as they seem.

    P.S. Does that make sense to anybody else?

  21. Denial is blinding 😉

  22. I once beat a bear senseless with an umbrella, so I didn’t get the joke at first.


    Seriously though, one pitfall of analogy is that the reader might not get it, especially if the connection is subtle and the reader isn’t a native speaker.

    Awesome joke!

  23. Jason, you’re right… but people don’t get things all the time.

    Analogies help people get things…

    But even when some don’t get it, the people who do are more persuaded because they “got it” for themselves.

  24. The burning questions are:
    Will the baby be a boy or a girl?
    Who shot the bear?

  25. Sherry Sanchez :

    Analogy is a better way to discuss matters without further explanations. Unless, readers didn’t get it and ask more. (I guess the man in the story will).

    It gives the readers the chance to analyze and understand it by themselves. Nice story though.

  26. One nice thing about social media & email marketing with content is you can mix it up. If someone in your audience doesn’t get one analogy, they may respond to the next. You can offer more straightforward content and tutorials at some points for those who learn best that way. You can use all kinds of different techniques to keep people engaged and get your message delivered.

  27. LOL! I had a good laugh! Did you come up with it yourself, Brain?

    Hmm… letting people reach their own conclusion, so they would think it’s their own idea and accept that idea… Awesome!

  28. A classic example of the ol’ writer advice, “Show, don’t tell.” I’ll remember this story much better than if you had posted a graph and told me to use analogies. The chuckle I got along the way helps too!

  29. wow, that was funny hehe, nice story illustration Brian!

  30. Analogies really bring the point home without going into too much detail. Good one!

  31. Concise and to the point, I like blog quotes like this. I think analogies work really well in certain instances; great title and great post to back it up.

  32. It doesn’t say what happened to the 22-year-old wife !

  33. I use analogies a lot in my everyday conversations. I got it from my Dad, he speaks like a monk most of the time.

    Great analogy in this story, I’ll have to remember this one :)

  34. Bravo! “Brevity is the soul of wit.”, isn’t like it you say it in english ?

  35. Sweet! :)

  36. Superb. The story nails it. :)

  37. Jane Hamilton :

    That is very clever! I can imagine the old guy’s expression. But can we speak in analogies all the time?

  38. Great analogy Brian! Its all about telling the story and enabling the reader to have the “aHa!” moment… :)

  39. Maybe we can, but the difficulty in it, it’s to be able to be enough clever to put an adapted one in a discussion or imagine one.

    Not really easy, in fact.

  40. Being over 50 I can imagine what that felt like for this man!
    Answering him like the doctor did, with another story is really cute :)

  41. Took me a couple seconds to understand what you were talking about when the old man said, “someone else must have shot the bear.” After I got it I laughed pretty hard.

  42. Hardy har har har :) Great joke! So, two antennas are sitting on a roof talking after a wedding:

    “That was a wonderful wedding!” said antenna #1.
    “Yeah, but the reception sucked.” said antenna #2.

    You can keep that one. I know how much y’all like it.

    The Tango Notebook

  43. That’s a great example of a powerful analogy, and a great example of making your point with one great example!

    Analogies and metaphors are more than just another way to communicate your message – they are essential for getting difficult or complicated concepts across, for strong user experience and clear communication.