For many people, a metaphor can be a ruling principle or deeply embedded worldview. For example, what is life? People have different metaphors; knowing a person's ruling metaphor can help you predict how they will act in certain situations:
Life is a game
Life is a battle
Life is a conversation
Life is an adventure
Serious conflict can arise when people's metaphors are not aligned. Part of the problem is that people don't know why they disagree so strongly. This is because even though metaphors have major influence on our thinking patterns and actions, for the most part they remain under the surface, unrecognized.
You know those moments when you're having a discussion or debate with someone and suddely find yourself staring blankly at each other, having realized that although you have been tossing some of the same words around, you are hardly even on the same topic? I usually think of it as a situational disconnect, but maybe I should be observing patterns and figuring out how, at the most basic level, people percieve and interact with life.