A brief guide to incongruence

Okay, who stepped out of line and who stepped on whose toes? This is where your words are doing a tango; your vocal tone's waltzing while your body language is busy break dancing . Your signals just don't match, which makes anyone watching think there's something fishy about your main point You don't look as though you mean what you say Even your own body's not convinced I also call this type of body language Personal Heckling .

When your words, tone, and body language all say different things it's incongruent For the listener or audience this creates a state of cognitive dissonance—that is, they receive conflicting signals and are unsure about which message to believe For their own intellectual comfort they'll opt for the most reliable and this means it's the body language that they will usually assume to be the more honest communicator We think it's harder to fix and rig, and in many ways we're probably right The only variable is if the listener is keen to collude with the "lie," in which case they will opt for whichever signals are giving out the message they want to hear So a besotted lover could believe a partner who says they love them too, even though they're eyeing up someone else as they say it

So, avoid sending incongruent signals Or as somebody else said once: say it straight, or you'll get it crooked.

If your words aren't going to sit happily with your gestures you'd be better off not speaking at all because at best you'll look insincere and at worst you'll appear to be a liar Imagine smirking when you tell someone you love them, or staring wide-eyed in horror as you try to convince your best friend that you like her new hairdo! Think of this behavior as your Personal Heckler

Incongruent gestures can also be what are called ambivalent signals . This is where there's no desire to deceive but by saying one thing while your body language suggests another means that you are presenting conflicting thoughts to an audience, which can end up confusing them

I once attended a presentation by a mind-numbingly dull speaker from the financial sector . If his brand of delivery could have been bottled and sold to hospitals it would have eliminated the need for an anesthetist This man was so dull even dishwater was trying to sue for libel Somewhere around the end of his talk he decided to tell us that his company "feels very passionate about our clients . " This flamboyant claim was accompanied by a deadpan expression and the very briefest of glances at the audience . If that was his idea of passion I just felt very sorry for his wife . While I didn't expect him to start dry humping the light projector to add emphasis to his words, I did expect a flicker of enthusiasm to light up his features . His incon-gruent delivery made a sham of the entire statement

Continue reading here: How to avoid incongruence

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