Incongruity Kills Trust

Incongruence causes people to distrust you.

People look to see if your actions match your words. If your words don’t match your actions, they see and feel the incongruity—even if you don’t believe they do. The mismatch is hard to miss. And that mismatch is even harder to overlook.

In fact, if your own actions don’t match your words, you feel the incongruity too, don’t you? You recognize that you are not being who you claim to be. Your conscience knows, and it reminds you by giving you that feeling in your gut.

People look to see if your words and actions match your intentions. Are you doing what you are doing for the reasons you claim? Or is there an ulterior motive driving your actions? People can feel your intentions, too.

One of the primary builders of trust is consistency (or what Charlie would call reliability). Everything has to be in line. If something falls out of line, it sticks out. And whatever sticks out draws attention.

This is why we trust people who we describe as “walking their talk.” They are predictable and consistent. They are reliable, and we can count on them. They are completely congruent, in words, in deeds, in intentions.

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