It is rapport within oneself, or internal and external consistency, perceived by others as sincerity or certainty.
Carl Rogers coined the term congruence to describe the match or fit between an individual’s inner feelings and outer display. The congruent person is genuine, real, integrated, whole, and transparent. The non-congruent person tries to impress, plays a role, puts up a front, and hides behind a facade. Rogers realized that congruence between feelings and actions can never be total, but his experience convinced him that choosing to be real with others is the single most important decision a person can make.
A healthy individual will tend to see congruence between their sense of who they are and who they feel they should be. While no one tends to experience perfect congruence at all times, some argue the relative degree of congruence is an indicator of ‘health’. Some researchers have tried to measure congruence by using a self-assessment technique called a Q-Sort.
Rogers said: “Congruence is associated with ‘awareness’ and constitutes the ‘state’ of a person who is ‘genuine’, ‘whole’, ‘integrated’, ‘without facade’, ‘adjusted’; while ‘ in-congruence’, ‘congruence’, polar opposite, is linked with ‘denial and distortion to awareness.’’
“It is the term we have used to indicate an accurate matching of experiencing and awareness. It may be still further extended to cover a matching of experience, awareness, and communication…He [the congruent individual] is one unified person all the way through, whether we tap his experience at the visceral [gut, organismic, or physiological] level, the level of his awareness [consciousness, or symbolization], or the level of communication.”
Rogers stated that when the feelings a person is experiencing are available to him, available to his awareness, as well as being able to live these feelings, be them, and able to communicate them if appropriate, then this is congruence.
“Thus whether he is angry or affectionate or ashamed or enthusiastic, we sense that he is the same at all levels—in what he is experiencing at an organismic level, in his awareness at the conscious level, and in his words and communications.” –Rogers.
Here are some quotes from others on congruence:
Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour: State of being unified, and completely sincere, with all aspects of a person working together toward an outcome. It is not something you have, it is something you do.
Tony Robbins: A situation in which the message a person communicates is the same or similar in all output channels-that is, the words of the message convey the same meaning as the previous two. All output channels are being aligned. In-congruence exhibits conflicting messages between output channels.
Robert Dilts, Tim Hallbom, Suzi Smith: Congruency occurs when you make a full conscious and unconscious commitment to some outcome or behaviour.
NLP Comprehensive: When goals thoughts and behaviours are in agreement.
Carmine Baffa: Congruence is a state, that is context dependent, where the individual has aligned all of his/her pictures, words and feelings in a way that allows that individual to be fully focused, without doubt, inside of the behaviours that will lead to the desired outcome when in that context. Yet when outside of that context, where congruence was the alignment of all modalities, there needs to exist the ability to produce doubt through misalignment, an in-congruent state, for the purpose of updating. Thus providing in the future, a feed forward loop that improves ones ability to perform congruently in that context, with a greater degree of competency.