[from book part 5 – WHO AM I TO APPRECIATE]

Over the years I’ve become very sensitive about congruent (and discongruent) behavior. Let’s study  Gandhi’s brilliant “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

In the first years of this century I worked for a large international express & logistics company, assigned to look after the ‘people-side of change’. At some point, the corporate head office introduced the Seven Values. There’s nothing wrong with a fine set of key values to enable focus. They were introduced to the top-100 – no, not me – during an expensive trip to the hidden city of Beijing, China. Interesting place for the presentation of such things as Trust and Openness, wouldn’t you think? One of the attending senior managers told me afterwards that during that conference, four of the seven new values had already been violated… so much for role modelling.

A few weeks later at our Benelux head office I found our caretaker carrying a pile of posters, glueing them on walls and coffee machines. Being responsible for the people-side of change and having not been informed about this internal communication ‘campaign’, I asked the caretaker who had assigned him to distribute the wall posters. He answered: “No one; they were delivered to my office, with a written request to put those on our walls.” The least I could do at that point was to suggest the idea of hanging a marker next to the posters, inviting people to reflect on the values by writing comments or ideas on the posters. This was considered to be a bad idea. The board I reported to, made it clear that the posters should remain untouched.

One of the values said “We foster openness.” It occurred to me that this poster was glued on the window of the office of a board member. This particular senior management offices carried frosted glass. (To find out whether the manager was in his room, without disturbing him, you either had to lie down on your belly to look through the small strip of clear glass next to the floor, or you had to take a ladder to glance through the strip against the ceiling.) So, on that piece of dimmed glass window, the Value poster said “We foster openness.” You get it? Being a person of the educational kind and not afraid of parrèsia, I invited the manager to step out of his office and have a look at the poster. He didn’t see the irony of the situation; he wasn’t aware of the discongruence he was representing. He was even willing to have his picture taken.

Perhaps you are a parent. And maybe your beloved children make noise. And at some point you would like them to be more quiet. Would you scream “QUIET NOW!!!!”? Of course not. You would whisper, “Please be quiet, because …”. That would be very congruent of you.


Do you pay attention to (dis)congruence?

Can you imagine some examples, effective and ineffective ones?

In what aspect of your being would you like to behave very congruently?


You’ve just read one of the 100 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind. Find out more (and a special pre-ordering offer) on www.appreciativeinquiries.eu