Getting a Grip on Metaphor: It Has a Hold on Us But Can We Embrace it?

26 Pages Posted: 23 May 2005

Date Written: February 14, 2005


The intuitive appeal of a metaphor to describe and explain a negotiator's point of view has become more popular but requires better theoretical and empirical grounding than seen so far. This study adapts psycholinguistic and lexicographic methods to take a different look at negotiation from the perspective of conceptual metaphor. As predicted by interdisciplinary research, certain metaphors and combinations are found widely used in diverse negotiation dialogs, negotiators are only minimally conscious of them, and capitalize on them infrequently. The structural attributes of metaphors found in this analysis correspond to those found in a body of research on conceptual metaphor concerned with the intersection of thought, talk, and action. From a research standpoint these findings, coupled with this demonstrated methodology, offer to help put metaphor study in conflict resolution on a more sound footing. From the point of view of practice improved understanding of opposing positions, additional avenues to mutual gain, and several negotiator training suggestions are discussed.

Keywords: Metaphor, negotiation, cognition, communications

Suggested Citation

Smith, Thomas H., Getting a Grip on Metaphor: It Has a Hold on Us But Can We Embrace it? (February 14, 2005). IACM 18th Annual Conference, Available at SSRN: or

Thomas H. Smith (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

Boulder, CO 80304
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics