When it’s high, we perceive it as authenticity. When it’s low, we perceive it as deception. Congruence runs on a sliding scale balancing on trustworthiness. It’s the point where we acknowledge that we don’t know everything, but we know enough to trust within a given context.

You don’t know how your financial advisor manages his own finances, but you trust that he will use his skill and products to deliver financial performance to you. You don’t know how well your mechanic maintains his own car, but you trust that he will deliver great expertise in the maintenance of yours.

In these cases, we are looking for adequate or contextual congruence.

There are certain areas where this is not sufficient. There are certain vocations and services we hold to a higher standard. We require the highest level of congruence. Pastors, clergymen, teachers and people in authority over us.

Here, what you know or can teach is irrelevant. The quality of your message is directly linked to your ability to deliver. Anything less than authenticity is not trustworthiness, it’s hypocrisy.

When you consider the congruence scale, you need to define your own tolerance level. This includes the tolerance level in your own congruence, and that of the people you offer the opportunity to serve you.

You could go with the crowd. You will find that sometimes the bar is too high, like with pastors and politicians. Sometimes the bar might be too low, like with phycologists and business incubators.

You deserve a tolerance level you are comfortable with. Make sure what you expect and what you offer are in congruence with one another.

Rich Smith

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