The concept of Congruence was a central part of Virginia Satir’s teachings. Her idea was that in order for us to truly connect with other people and ourselves we need to, from a place of strong self-esteem, fully honor and appreciate our selves, the other person and the context we are currently in. From this state of wholeness where we are fully present, accepting and accountable, we can act and communicate in a way where we have access to all our internal and external resources and where our feelings, intent, affect and communication all align. The power of Congruence lies in the authenticity we offer to ourselves and people around us and the choices we get access to when we’re not limiting ourselves through the rules of “I ought to …”, “I should not …”, “I can never …”, “I must always …” and the likes.

Self Other Context
Three Dimensions of Communication

Virgina identified three parts that we must fully honor in order to be Congruent; the Self, the Other and the Context. We need to act with  compassion and caring for ourselves as well as the other person we are interacting with. While doing this we also need to stay aware of the current context and appreciate its uniqueness. As soon as we fail to fully acknowledge one of these three parts we will move towards Incongruence (more on this in later posts).

Virginia Satir's Survival Stances
Congruence and Incongruence

Being Congruent is not about smooth sailing and constant happiness. It doesn’t mean that we are trying to push our own agenda. Neither does it mean being servant or even polite to the other person. It does mean that in this given point in time, we are fully present and aligned with all parts of ourself while also giving the Other and the Context the same level of attention and degrees of freedom.

A Congruent Leader is not a person who is alway Congruent. It is to me a person who understands what it means to be Congruent, who manages to chose Congruency more often and who can recognize in themself when they are not being Congruent. I strongly believe that the Congruent Leader will help people around them grow and in doing so also helps the systems (organizations, communities etc) that they reside in to flourish. When we are Congruent and communicate Congruently we also give permission to everyone else to do the same. We help people grow their self-esteem and self-efficacy by allowing them to access their own resources in a similar fashion.

When I talk about the Congruent Leader I will be quite specific about Congruency but also quite liberal in what I mean by a leader. We all lead in different situations and by being Congruent we automatically radiate some of the most important qualities of a true leader; presence and empowerment. The Congruent leader is anyone and everyone who displays the qualities we associate with a true leader, who inspire us to grow and to be the best we can in an agreed upon direction.

My upcoming posts will continue to explore the topics of how to stay more Congruent. I aim to write about tools for how to raise our awareness and attend to the Self, the Other and the Context in different ways as well as going into the concept of Congruence in more detail. This writing is ongoing and emergent so the order of the posts will not necessarily be logical and the conclusions I draw will hopefully evolve but my hope is that this will add clarity to the end product in its own way.

6 Comments

  • Morgan. I very much enjoy your writing style, authenticity and ease of explanations. Reading your blog is like having a conversation with you. Thank you for your clarity in how you convey the essence of congruence. Looking forward to reading more!

  • Orville Jackson

    Morgan this a great introduction and summary of the power of being congruent. I look forward to your future posts and continued discussion!

    • Morgan Ahlström

      Thank you Orville. Our talks were important to the end result.
      /Morgan

  • Fimblo

    Really looking forward to reading more.
    I have one question/request – in the third to last paragraph, you make a claim that the Congruent leader will help people grow and systems flourish. What I’m missing are some concrete – and if possible simple – examples of congruent communication and how it connects with growth in the other. This had stumped me in the past as well when trying to understand congruency.

    Thanks!

    • Morgan Ahlström

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. That is an excellent point Fimblo. I will put that down for a post when revisiting Congruence in the near future.
      /Morgan

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