Communication: The Importance of Congruent Communication

Congruent Communication:
A communication pattern in which the person sends the same message on both verbal and nonverbal levels.

The term congruence is most often used in geometry. It means agreement and alignment. We can also be congruent in our communication.

All behavior is our way of showing what is going on inside us. It is a kind of communication.

Congruent communication conveys both what the speaker is thinking and is feeling. There are definitely situations where discretion is a more appropriate choice than full disclosure of what we think and feel. However, in most communication situations, we communicate more effectively when we’re candid. If we aren’t completely honest, listeners won’t completely trust what we say.

A common example of incongruent communication is saying that “it’s no big deal” or “I don’t mind” or “whatever” when you are in fact discussing an issue important to you and you feel otherwise. We’re more constructive when we use congruent communication because we’re giving the other party the truth rather than misleading them.

We have many different ways to get our message across – even if we don’t want the other to know, or don’t consciously know ourselves. Our words, tone, gestures, body language, gaze, and facial expressions all say something. When all of these communication channels are saying similar things, we are congruent (e.g., saying “I like you” and I am saying it in a warm tone with smiling eyes.)

The basis of lie detection is congruence – the words matching internal processes. My words say “I didn’t do it”, and my heart rate has just surged, perspiration increased and I glanced away (or whatever my individual unconscious response to a lie is.)

The expression “say what you mean and mean what you say” has been around for a long time. It captures the essence of what it means to be congruent.

Discrepancies between what is going on internally and what is being represented can become obvious to us with practice.

This article edited from Used with permission of the author Kim Davis. Copyright © 2015

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