Incongruence Is Like Cancer. Learn To Spot It.
I recently listened to an episode of the “Brain Software” podcast by Mike Mandel and Chris Thompson where they discussed in a roundtable panel attendance at the “Hypnothoughts” seminar in Las Vegas. One question specifically posed by Thompson and Mandel was which speakers were the “best” at the seminar. The same answer came from just about every single person. Those speakers who did best and were most engaging were the ones who were “congruent.” If you’re not surrounding yourself with people who are congruent in their actions, take great care with approaching them. If you want to remove conflict from your life, cut the incongruent people out like they are a cancerous tumor.
What is “congruency?” The definition is hard to find from a basic search on the internet, but the best that I can reach is “The quality or state of agreeing or corresponding.” Translating this to human interaction, it means that what you’re saying and doing is corresponding. Incongruence suggests that while your words say one thing, your actions speak in another capacity.
I remember seeing a video of Hillary Clinton leaving a voting booth in 2008 after voting for Barack Obama. If I can find the video again, I will post it here in an update. The interesting quality of that video was Hillary’s words were inconsistent with her actions. She said she voted for Barack Obama as President and would support him fully, because he was the best choice for President and would work well to further the country’s best interests.
As she said those words, her head shook “no.” This is a clear cut example of incongruence in body language. Her head is using an universally understood pattern of “no” or “negativity,” yet she is voicing language that says “yes” and “positivity.”
And people are wondering why there’s questions about Hillary lying in this campaign cycle.
Politics aside, take some time in your day and look at those who you interact. Observe their body language and see how it correlates with what they’re saying. Are the two congruent, or does the body say something the speech does not?
If the person isn’t being “congruent” with their daily interactions, how are they going to be “congruent” with you and your relationships? If the business partners you have aren’t congruent in their dealings with you, what are they doing to make you successful? How are they making you money?
Examine congruence. Most people won’t take the time to make these observations about their lives and the people surrounding them because they’ve become “emotional autists.” In a world where technology runs our lives, we’ve conditioned ourselves to living and interacting with people absent contextual clues. Because we can’t see or interact with people we can’t determine whether they mean what they say, if they’re being completely inflammatory, or if they are being deceptive.
I recently had a conversation with my dad that he saw as “shooting the breeze.” During the course of said conversation, he smiled and said some pretty terrible things about my wife. As he did so, he failed to look at me, didn’t consider my body language, and didn’t think to adjust his conversation accordingly.
When the man I’ve called my “Father” since age 16 started talking shit about my wife, he didn’t notice me shutting down. He didn’t notice me getting angry. He didn’t see that I was ready to throw things. I had to actually express to him that I was going through those emotions.
By the end of the day, I had a knot in my gut from the sheer toxicity of this conversation.
It honestly tore me apart. I’ve been avoiding talking to him for a bit, because when I do I won’t do so out of anger. I’ll do it out of detached emotion, because anger won’t serve anyone when making an honest attempt at repairing a damaged relationship.
When you’re in a courtroom or mediation setting, you can recognize congruence if you’re not an emotional autist. You can tell when someone is saying something they don’t mean, or if they’re lying, or if there’s a hidden message that can be used to signal a “check in.”
Daily, most people don’t get that option.
Here’s an experiment to try. Go communicate with someone today that’s important in your life. I can be a partner, it can be a business colleague, anyone. Don’t “talk” to them. Speak, watch their body language as they respond, and see if the two are consistent.
If they aren’t congruent in your communication, you may need to reevaluate that relationship.