I once met a guy who sold very upscale timeshares to clients. He talked to customers about all the bells and whistles and how they needed to live in such luxury. He would drive the clients around in a golf cart and show them condos for sale, all the features of the complex, and go over the finance options. He was very versed on the features of the deal, but he didn’t sell many. You see, he had a tooth in the front of his mouth that kept falling out. He would talk and the tooth would drop out, and he would shove the tooth back up into his mouth and keep talking. He was very handsome and a skilled communicator, but every couple that sat at his desk and in his golf cart left thinking the same thing. This guy needs to get his tooth fixed. It was super distracting. This gentleman was trying to sell something that he couldn’t afford. He was hustling everyone to buy, because he was broke, not because he believed in the product or lived there himself and understood the benefits.

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Webster describes congruency in many ways, but here are a few synonyms that I find interesting.  A congruent person is:

in accord with self, their insides are in agreement with their outsides, there is harmony when you hear them speak and watch them live.

So how does one go about being “congruent?” I believe the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is a solid start. The assessment shows how we are innately created, how we are energized to finish projects in our own personal ways. But it also shows what triggers us to be angry; it uses extreme language to show what we hate, and it challenges its recipients to take ownership of their perceptions.

Let me give you an example. With the strength of RESPONSIBILITY, a person often can be counted on to take ownership of a project or task. They will come in early and stay late in order to finish. Many times they are very careful about what they will commit to, because they will work to completion at all costs once the commitment is made. But with this strength, if they are not aware, could also come the propensity to be a micromanager. So while a manager with RESPONSIBILITY could speak with empowering words to their employees in a company meeting, they could also behind the scenes be someone who won’t allow the employee to finish a task in their own way. This incongruent behavior makes the employee feel stifled, controlled, micromanaged, and it causes the employee to throw their hands up and be disengaged.

When a manager is incongruent in their behavior, it damages TRUST with employees. To change an organization, I first begin with managers, because they control the tone, culture, and feel of any group of people. When my customers fully take ownership of their strengths and their weaknesses, I feel like they start on the road to being congruent. They understand what needs to be “turned up” or “turned down” within themselves and no longer blame others for their own perceptions. They stop pointing fingers at others to change and instead work on the only real change they can control.

If your family or your team has not been coached in a Clifton StrengthsFinder session, I highly suggest giving it consideration. I believe a session can provide a language to identify incongruent or hypocritical behavior. I haven’t met a perfect person yet, but I have met plenty of people who have stopped finger pointing at others and instead have turned the index finger on themselves.