While congruency as a way of behaving has received wide acceptance, many criticize it as (a) giving way to license, (b) not allowing for change, and (c) not really being practical. If we can recognize that congruence is not the only value we hold, perhaps we can respond to a range of feeling stemming from a more complex value system. Simple, impulsive behaviors may not represent the range of feelings induced by a complex set of values; to be truly congruent one must be aware of both his values and the range of his feelings. Neither does congruence mean the maintaining of one’s behavioral status quo. Congruence would require that a person who has behaviors he does not like should declare these to others and engage in a process of change. Being congruent may not only represent a value but requires skill in performance, and this skill can perhaps be learned. Since certain social systems may not initially support congruent behaviors, it may mean introducing change into the system before congruence is recognized as a practical way of living with others.
This article was originally published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science; at the time the author was serving as chairman of BYU’s Department of Organizational Behavior.