The fulfillment of life’s promises comes through the
freedom found in being congruent.
The word congruent originates from the Latin word congruere meaning ‘to agree, meet together’. Webster’s New World Dictionary expands this to include “harmonious, corresponding, and conformity.”
As a speaking coach, I encourage clients to be congruent when communicating their message. This means to align their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy, or vibration, so all aspects of their message come into agreement. We practice delivering the message in various ways, using physical, emotional and vocal techniques to limber up the body and free their voice. When they strike the chord of congruence, everyone knows it: their message is believable and compelling, the audience is attracted to their suggestions and willing to support their cause, or make the purchase.
Why is this? Research has shown that listeners are influenced only 7% by the content of a presentation. The 93% balance comes from the speaker’s voice and body language. Sales research done in the 1990’s in the US and the UK revealed that more than half of the time, a prospect decided within the first two minutes whether they would buy from that person. Harvard research also demonstrated that we “know” someone’s competence with 80% accuracy.
So when the message says one thing and the voice and body conveys another, the audience reverts to questioning the agenda rather than listening and starts judging instead; or worse, switches their attention to distractions like text messaging or making to-do lists. The result? The presentation falls on deaf ears.
It is folly to think you can fool an audience. The audience may not be sold on the ideas presented if the speaker is in some way inharmonious with her or his message. The audience looks for congruence, the alignment of your message with your voice and body language as the clue to your credibility.
The great thing is that we were designed to be congruent. Being yourself is the easiest way to be. It takes no extra energy. It is the path of least resistance to personal and professional success. It is the ability to align your heart, mind, body and soul with the willingness to speak about what’s really happening in the moment as it unfolds, even if that is outside the norm of usual conversation. It involves taking the risk of being different for the sake of being real: an original instead of a copy.
To be congruent means to conform not to an outside version of what society expects, but to the unique gift, insights and perspectives that you bring to the world.
Joseph Campbell said, “If you can see your path laid out ahead of you step by step, it’s not your path. You create your path with every step you take. You can only see it looking back through time.”
Being congruent can be challenging. John Lennon spoke of this challenge when he launched back into performing and recording in 1980. During an interview on the eve of his tragic death, he expressed how challenging he found it to be uncensored living a public life; how hard it was not to project an image of being something he’s not. He tried to retain himself. “It was most uncomfortable when I didn't feel I was being myself, when I had to smile when I didn't want to smile. I don’t want to sell my soul to have a hit record. I can live without it. I'm not gonna come back in and create a persona who would not be myself”.
Listen to what John Lennon says. Discover your real calling in life, trust the universe to support you in expressing that calling, experience great joy being in service to others as you share your passion, talents and gifts with them. Your spiritual evolution is accelerated when you embrace the truth of who you are and feel the full-on freedom of being alive; that’s congruence.
When you stand on this platform, your energy lines up with your message. That's what the audience wants to experience, that’s what the audience wants to support and to buy, and that's what the market is longing to find.
The fulfillment of life's promises comes through the freedom found in being congruent.
Learn how to be congruent in Patty Shortreed's presentations and one-to-one coaching.