This is not my next real post in the series, it is just an amuse-bouche delivered to cleanse your palate between regular posts.
After my first post in The Congruent Leader series I got a request to give an example of Congruence and my spontaneous reaction was “Oh yes, of course.” I’ve been considering the topic since and I realized that an example will not make the topic justice. It’s quite easy to give examples of incongruence, for example whenever we blame, placate or ignore around important issues. Congruence though is all about the Self, the Other and the Context and all of these perspectives are so complex in themselves that it’s impossible to convey the preconditions in such a way that we even begin to do them justice in a way where we all see the same situation. What is Congruent to me might not be your Congruent response to the same situation because it will not be the same situation when we switch places. After thinking about this I decided to offer an exercise instead for you to self evaluate your responses and options to see which ones you find most Congruent. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in talking about your ideas after doing this exercise. My hope is that the upcoming posts in this series will help you with tools to come up with even more Congruent options in the future if you follow my blog. If anyone finds this exercise valuable I will try to come up with more in the future and I think it might be interesting to revisit them as I add on tools.
The exercise I’ll describe is taken from a real world example with additional complexity that I won’t disclose here but I found the situation in itself useful as a thought experiment. If the person who shared this with me originally happens to find their way here I hope that you’re ok with me borrowing some of the set-up.
Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater. Mid-movie you get a phone call and it turns out that you had forgotten to set you phone on silent. While you’re fumbling with your phone to turn it off the person next to you in the theater stares at you and loudly in a very disdainful tone proclaims: “You need to stop that crap immediately!”
Consider that the person next to you is:
- A family member
- A person you’re with on a first date
- An unknown old man
- An unknown teenage girl
- A biker with a vest signaling membership in a criminal gang
The movie is:
- A silly rom-com
- Schindler’s list
Questions to consider in the different scenarios:
- What would be your spontaneous response in this situation?
- What could be a more Congruent response to the situation?
- Do you have access to all possible responses or are there external factors that limit your choices? What are they and why?
- Are there internal factors where you yourself are taking away the possibility of certain responses? What are they and why?
- How does your age, gender, ethnicity and social status affect the situation and your response? To whom might this be an entirely different situation?
Keep in mind how Congruence is about taking Self, Other and Context into account. What is the Context and how does it affect the situation? Who is the Other and in what ways do you account for them?
Can you be apologetic without placating? Can you be angry without blaming? Can you be objective without acting like a robot? Can you acknowledge all your feelings? Can you empathize with the other?
What is Congruence to you in this movie theater?