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Congruence & Incongruence: Explained [Important!]

Congruence & Incongruence: Explained [Important!]

What exactly is congruence , and how can you become more practiced in it? Good questions! Congruence is the art of integrity. You will find all the answers in this article.

What is congruence?

Congruence is an equal attunement of what you think (1), feel (2) and do (3) . When you are congruent, all three of these elements reflect the same state of mind you are in.

Someone who is genuinely happy with their birthday present is congruent. He will feel very excited and happy and he will also say that he is very happy with the gift. He then experiences a pure state of joy. He is in that moment connected to himself and his environment, and he is also completely in the moment.

When someone is congruent, this person shows a pure state of mind. So it is not a mixed state of mind and there is no internal conflict. For example, you can be congruently sad, angry, or happy.

So what is incongruence, and what is an example of this?

In an incongruent person there is a difference between what he / she says, does and feels. For example: incongruity occurs when someone is disappointed with his gift (feeling) while still telling (behavior) that he is happy with it.

For trained NLPers, and often also for non-trained people, incongruity is easy to spot. How? For an extra clear example, let’s look at sarcasm

An exaggerated form of incongruity is sarcasm. The intonation and facial expression of a sarcastic person do not match his words at all. You can also recognize incongruity by an asymmetrical face. How you recognize this is all discussed in an NLP Practitioner Training.

When what you think, say, and do are the same, you experience complete freedom, love and fulfillment.
– Gandhi

How can we measure whether we are (in) congruent?

You can recognize incongruity with the following hints:

  • Modal verbs of necessity: “I must …”
  • When someone says “try” instead of “do”.
  • When someone makes hesitant movements and gestures or when someone has a hesitant voice.
  • When you discover through a logical level analysis that someone’s logical levels are not aligned.
  • His or her actions do not reflect or even contradict his / her words. Also name this: “I heard you say x and saw you do y (sensory specific). Can you tell me what’s going on inside you? If you don’t want x, what do you want? The other person will often not even notice that he / she did y.

Do you want to know how congruent you are about a certain choice in your life? Then do the following:

  • Put your hand on your head and feel if your head agrees with that choice.
  • Put your hand on your heart and feel if your heart agrees with that choice.
  • Put your hand on your stomach and feel if your stomach agrees with that choice.

Do all three spots feel equally strong? Do all three places really want to continue the choice? Then you know that you are congruent. If that is not the case, then you know that you are not yet congruent about that theme in question.

Say what you feel and feel what you say. You suddenly free yourself from stress and depression.

Why are we incongruent? Cause, effect and the positive intention

We are often incongruous with the positive intention of protecting ourselves. In certain situations you are afraid of being ’embarrassed’. Because of this you take on a role that makes you feel safer and more confident at that moment (the positive intention).

In many cases, others will notice that you are doing this. Feeling congruently anxious is therefore in many cases better than such an inner struggle of and incongruent self-confidence.

How can we increase our congruence?


Do you really want to pursue something full of self-assurance, but do you feel incongruous because, for example, you feel fear of being embarrassed? It is better to feel and express the fear of embarrassment. In this way, self-assurance comes naturally instead of that fear, but then congruently.

Via this way (allowing all feelings) it is important to become completely congruent in a self-confident state of mind, in which you therefore feel confident and that is also reflected in your behavior. NLP exercises can cause congruence by directing the feelings, behavior and thoughts at the same time.

An alternative way is to work on only one or two of these three elements (thinking, doing and feeling). Each of the three components of the congruence triangle has an effect on the other components. For example, if you feel insecure, you can spread your arms completely and stand like a proud king. The feeling of self-confidence will then follow automatically.

Also try out the formal Visual Squash technique  . This technique is especially intended for resolving inconsistencies.

The curious power of congruence

You can get away with anything if you’re congruent. The opposite is also true: if you say something while your voice, posture, feelings and thoughts do not radiate the same, you are not effective. People then think: ‘ew!’

So make sure your voice and message are congruent. Use a rousing voice when you say the client feels ‘Simply fantastic’! And slow down when you say, “Me. Want. Which. You. On this. Very. Slowly. And. Be careful. Please note. Stops. ‘

True happiness is when what you do, think and say is in perfect harmony.
– Gandhi

Avoid or enter into contact with people, despite the incongruity?

All problems that clients come up with are forms of incongruity. They are paradoxes. Problems, incongruity, paradoxes or whatever you want to call it contain a lot of turbulence.

That feeling of instability grows with contact with other turbulent things, namely other people. No wonder we want to go to the sea, nature or our bed. And you have to tackle that problem at the core, where it is most commonly found, namely through contact with other people. Not by running away.

What has congruence to do with integrity?


Fair communication is saying what you really want. Not to please, but to ask for what you really want. This could be, for example, saying no if someone needs your car. Then you can say no integer and congruent in the following ways:

  • Thanks for asking, and no.
  • I understand and no.
  • You could be right, and no.
  • I see it could work for you, and no.
  • I care about you and no.
  • I’m afraid to say no to you, and the answer is no for now.

Exercise – Exploring Congruence

We are going to identify a person’s internal and external signals to explore what congruence looks like.

  • A and B are opposite each other. B is the coach and will observe closely what happens to A’s physiology during this exercise.
  • “When were you nice and congruent? Enter that experience / memory of a congruent state. ”
  • Ask about the internal and external signals (VAKOG) and the emotions of A. Examples: “What kind of emotions did you have then? What did you look like then? How did you behave? What was your attitude? What did you say? What do you feel now that you think back to it? Where do you feel it and how does it feel? How is your breathing, the tension in your muscles, the feeling in your toes? Can you describe your emotions? Is it a sense of peace, relaxation, or something else? ”
    (Tip: The coach sometimes echoes the answers back to create a kind of vicious circle of good emotions.)
  • When B has explored the state, he brings A back to a neutral state by, for example, saying “let that go”.
  • Repeat all previous steps 3 times with different congruent states to find out together which internal signals are the same in all 3 states.
  • During this exercise the coach calibrates / observes the external signals that are the same in all 3 states. After a while you will notice that the coach can notice the answers on the client’s body before the client tells it. For example, when asked where she feels the congruent state in her body, the client’s hand goes to her shoulder saying “let’s think where I feel it”. The coach then knows that the feeling is in her shoulder.
  • Repeat the complete exercise with 3 incongruent states. Recognize what incongruity looks like in person A.
  • Remember to also break down the incongruent memories / states and bring A to a neutral state. At the end of the exercise, bring A back to a state of congruence. Think about how you will recognize the difference between congruence and incongruence in yourself from now on.

Exercise – Recognize incongruity

From now on, detect incongruity in your daily activities. For example with salespeople, but also with all other people you come across. For example, you can recognize that something is going on, that someone has a hidden agenda or that someone feels at home or not somewhere.

How can you respond to incongruity?


When you see incongruity in a person, you can respond in the following way:

  • Help the other person establish the positive intention of the behavior and find new expressions of the positive intention that are congruent.
  • Imitating and exaggerating the non-verbal part.
  • Mirroring the complete incongruity: Yes, how nice, that makes me so happy (sad body language).
  • Meta commentary: “I see x, I hear y.” What makes you say that?
  • Turning the verbal and nonverbal: “That makes me so sad! (laughing)

This was the article on being congruent. Thank you very much for reading.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!


  1. Marianne Colenbrander

    Question: Can mindfulness, relaxation exercises, or yoga contribute to a congruent? I think it is

    • Rubin Alaie

      Nice addition Marianne. In my opinion, that is certainly a very good way.