INCONGRUITY - When the Overt and Covert Messages don't Meet

INCONGRUITY COACHING is focusing on two levels of the communication at the same time. The words intend to convey the meaning of the message. But people often convey more than one message at the same time. The conventionally understood message in the social circle is called the Social-level message. The Psyhological-level message is the real menaning of the message. Many times it is the opposite of the Social-level message.

Let me give you a brief example here. You would like to know if your colleague (Phil) will be able to complete a report by 6 p.m. He says "Yes, I will." At the same time you can hear his weak voice and when he starts speakig he breaks the eye contact with you, he shakes hands with you in a powerless way and you can see a left shoulder shrug on him.

Visually this situation can be represented like this.

If the Social-level and Psychological-level convey the same message, the two levels are CONGRUENT. In our example above, this is not so. If the message conveyed on the Psychological-level is different from that conveyed on the Social-level, there is said to be INCONGRUITY between the two levels. The Psychological-level message is said to be ULTERIOR.

There is a basic law in TA: the BEHAVIORAL OUTCOME of any communication is determined at the Psychological- and not at the Social-level. The non-verbal signals always convey what is really going on. It is called NONVERBAL LEAKAGE. You can capture it in a fake smile, when someone is nodding their head and says no or shaking their head and saying yes. Look at Scully below. She is using a negative sentence while nodding (agreeing) her face:

This coaching aims to sharpen your awareness of this nonverbal signalling. You will become alert to the presence of the double message.

Together we observe others as they are communicating. We record your communication too and analyze it. You will soon become an expert at spotting incongruent messages.

By paying attention to your own congruency in communication others will understand you better. By paying attention to others, you can ask for clarification whenever you perceive incongruent messages. You can use these additional levels of communication both in your business and in your private life.

When you feel you are sensitive enough at this area we can say good-bye to each other. The coaching process is over.

Next time you may want to work on another topic so you can call me to work on the TONES you use when communicating with others. This is the third field in my coaching portfolio (see above by clicking on the third picture).

To read more about the incongruent messages, you can go to the BLOG section.

To have more information about the coaching with me, you can go to the CONTACT section.

Key Features


Variables: Psychological-level message, Social-level message, meaning, real meaning, ulterior transaction, behavioral outcome, non-verbal leakage

Examples: Agreement, Transparency, Attitude, Honesty, Intention, Understanding