Being Congruent with Yourself
Congruency is an important element of assertiveness. In the sense that we have to learn how to say the same thing with our words, our voice and our body.
It is both being able to identify ‘What am I feeling right now ?’ ‘What do I really want to say to this person?’. And avoiding responses like ‘Yes I am fine’ when that is a lie and the truth is told by your sad face and tone of voice.
In the same way, we cannot be assertive if we are not breathing and our voice comes out high pitched or tremulous and we have only one foot on the ground. To be taken seriously the words we say , the stance of our bodies and the other signals we give off all need to be consistent - in agreement with each other.
What stops us being congruent?
I suspect it is a number of things- not being sure about what we actually feel, not feeling confident enough to say it out loud, being overwhelmed by what others might want of us or think about us.
One good way to become more congruent is to pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking-what is going on both inside your body and your head and see if they are saying the same thing. If not take a moment to think which one might be the closest to how you really feel at the moment and see if you can let that take precedence. So if someone asks how you are when you are feeling rotten rather then lying and saying I am fine, try saying something like ’Today’s not a brilliant day for me’ or I am not feeling on top of the world today’ Something that isn’t a lie and that doesn’t evoke pity or responsibility in the other.
Or if you need to give some negative feedback to a friend or colleague; think carefully about what it is you want them to change, be specific about what they have done that is not OK for you, and what they can do differently. Start your sentences with ‘I feel…….’ not ‘You make me…..’. This blamey, you make me, phrase always makes other people leap to a defensive position from which they can’t hear what it is you are trying to say. All they will be able to do is defend their position, when what you want them to do is to think about doing something different.
We will be spending a lot of the assertiveness course in March practising being congruent and making clear statements about what we feel or think or want.