Home » Communication » Can we stop comparing everything to an iceberg already?

Can we stop comparing everything to an iceberg already?

The main lesson from the Titanic tragedy is that icebergs are deceptively big. Hunks of floating ice hide most of their mass beneath the surface of ocean water due to salitity and water density properties. (The main lesson of the movie, of course, is to learn how to balance two people on one floating door. It IS possible.)

I get it: a lot of everyday things are comparable to icebergs because they look simple at first but have a “deeper” aspect as well. I’ve heard this model applied to intercultural communication, critical thinking, success, and behavior. Yes. These things are all things that have more things going on “below the surface.”

Reportedly, Ernest Hemingway coined the term “iceberg theory” for his minimalistic writing style.  In his novels, he does not delve into his characters’ motivations and aspirations but reveals them through actions and dialog.  The Garden Of Eden tells the story of a couple who are outwardly very much in love, but have deep dissatisfaction in their lives and relationship.  Hemingway doesn’t tell the reader why this is, but writes so well the reader cannot help but pick up on the repetitive themes of discontentment through the chapters. 

1. Backstage

If you’ve ever been part of a performance on stage, you know that a lot goes on backstage so that what the audience sees can look effortless and integrated. Trust me, behind the curtain there is a mad house. Props are missing. Mics are mislabeled. People who are supposed to be on stage like, five minutes ago are no where to be found, and someone else with a headset is about to lose it. If you’re trying to compare a situation that is covertly chaotic, try this analogy.

2. The duck

aid33789-728px-take-care-of-ducklings-step-11Like an iceberg, a duck floats in water. Unlike an iceberg, this is not the bulk of the duck’s body, so this analogy works for a hidden driving force. For example, an action is propelled by a motive.

3. Magical tents from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Alternatively, Hermione’s magicked purse or Mary Poppin’s carpet bag. These magical items are larger on the inside, which is better to explain an internal situation such as emotional trauma sparking an outburst. What you can see is all that can be seen, but there is a cognitive, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise intangible process that is directly related.

 These are only a few ideas that came to me, and I’m sure you can find one more applicable to your situation than yet another looming iceberg. 


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