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How to develop interpersonal intelligence?

Have you ever met a person who seems to get along pretty well with others whether in the class, in the work groups or in other social settings? If yes, then do you wonder how does he or she successfully deal with others?

Actually that person is able to understand the emotions, moods, feelings and motives of others. In other words, that person has highly developed interpersonal intelligence, one of the nine types of intelligence identified by American developmental psychologist Howard Gardner. It is defined as the ability to deal with people effectively, understanding their nature and interacting accordingly. Understanding the mood, emotions, and feelings of people & adapting your behavior accordingly is actually a proficiency in interpersonal intelligence.

While talking about Interpersonal intelligence in his 2006 book “Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in theory and practice”, Howard Gardner mentioned Anne Sullivan as an example of a person having this type of intelligence. Anne Sullivan is actually the teacher of a famous lady Helen Keller who had lost two of her 5 senses at the age of 19 months. Anne Sullivan herself was nearly a blind lady but her interpersonal intelligence enabled her to educate deaf-blind lady Helen Keller.

Under the mentorship of Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller not only could succeed in her academic career but also became a social and political activist. Later on Keller was awarded “Presidential Medal of freedom” in 1962 and whole set of achievements was the result of great interpersonal skills of her teacher who understood her well and taught her accordingly.

People having interpersonal or social intelligence communicate very well both verbally and non-verbally. They look at things from different perspectives and understand the situation of others and thus are able to manage positive relationships with others. They not only focus on building their own relationships with others but also act as the conflict resolvers among conflicting parties.

While other intelligences focus on ‘you’ and ‘yourself’, interpersonal intelligence focuses on understanding and dealing with others. As a result, people having this type of intelligence easily adjust with others in work settings and build strong teams. Team work allows the blend of different talents that invites a lot of opportunities, enabling that person to undertake great accomplishments.

Career choices for people having intelligences other than interpersonal intelligence are usually limited. In contrast, career choices for people having interpersonal intelligence are unlimited as they are adept at getting along with others, proficient at working in groups or teams, and efficient at leading others; so they may work in a variety of settings and diverse conditions. Psychologists, philosophers, motivational and public speakers, teachers, social workers, anchors, politicians, sales persons, mentors and counsellors are among those exhibiting high levels of interpersonal intelligence, so these are relatively better career choices for a person having this type of intelligence.

Characteristics of people having interpersonal intelligence

Extrovert or Gregarious: People having interpersonal intelligence are extrovert and gregarious, they love to meet people, make new friends, have friendly attitude and love to gossip.

Party animal: People having strong interpersonal skills love to conduct and attend social events. They love to be the part of crowd and enjoy talking to new and unknown people.

Empathetic: Interpersonally intelligent people are highly empathetic, they understand moods, feelings and emotions of others and adapt their behavior accordingly.

Love mentorship: Such people like to counsel, guide and mentor others, this is why trainers in different fields have strong interpersonal skills

Charismatic: Not only they love to talk to others, other people also like to talk to them. People like their overall outlook, speaking style, body language and love to listen and follow them.

Effective communicators: People having this type of intelligence have effective communication skills both verbal and non-verbal

Confident: Self-confidence is the key to high level of interpersonal intelligence. So, you would have observed highly social people are very confident and adroit.

Ways to develop interpersonal intelligence

Be an empathetic person

To get along with people, you must have the ability to understand and share someone’s feelings and emotions; in other words, you must be empathetic. As people are different, they have different point of views, different personal traits and different values etc. You need to observe those differences by noticing what they speak about, how do they interact, what makes them happy or angry. Once you are able to notice those differences, you will be able to understand their values, feelings, emotions and beliefs. Then you have to learn to deal with them according to those differences.

Be Humble

Be a person others feel easy to interact with. People with high level of interpersonal intelligence are humble i.e. people feel comfortable while interacting with them. In contrast, people having low levels of interpersonal intelligence are rude, arrogant and insensitive. Pay your full attention to people while interacting with them. Read them and don’t show sharp reactions. Never make others feel devalued, disrespected or rejected.

Become a person people are comfortable with

When people are comfortable with you, they like to share their feelings with you. So, when you make people realize that you understand their feelings and emotions and situation then they will open themselves up. For this you need to seek the attention of people, once they become attentive you may develop their interest towards your specific intentions and this is the way to get along with people.

Become an active listener

A big mistake we commit when someone talks to us is we start judging without fully paying attention to what he is speaking about. To develop your interpersonal intelligence, you need to be an active listener. To be an active listener, don’t interrupt others while they are speaking, ask for clarification if you don’t understand something, but don’t judge instantly.

Improve your body language

To be inter-personally intelligent, you not only need to improve your speaking and listening style but also strongly need to improve your non-verbal communication including your body language. Focus and analyze your postures, gestures, facial expressions etc. Do you smile, do you look calm, do you seem open and relaxed while interacting with others? Keep constant eye contact while talking to others, respond by facial expression when someone talks to you. Don’t show attitude like your attention has diverted or you are too busy to pay attention. People having high levels of interpersonal intelligence have strong body language, look cool and calm and speak in a charming way.

Increase your social interactions

If you want to develop your interpersonal skills, you must have self-confidence; you must have the desire to lead; and you must say good bye to shyness. For it, you need to improve your social interactions. Meet and interact with new persons at every opportunity, take leadership role wherever you work or study or play, counsel others about something you have expertise in, join some volunteer or other such group or welfare institute and don’t miss out any social event or any social gathering. If you have the desire to know people, their attitudes and behaviors then you may easily enhance your social interaction but if you don’t have or very little desire of knowing about others then you need to work on it in order to improve your social interaction.

Be positive and don’t criticize others

Sometimes, it happens that you have to interact with those whom you don’t like; in that situation you don’t destroy your image in society by just commenting negative remarks or by criticizing them. You must actively listen but don’t speak too much if you really don’t like the person interacting with you and avoid criticizing him.

Don’t get offensive if someone criticizes you

You not only have to avoid criticizing others but also remain cool and calm when someone else criticizes you. The best way to dealing with criticism is to stay silent and avoid responding. Whenever you reply negatively to criticism against you, you destroy your social reputation

Interpersonal is the intelligence type that everyone must possess in order to succeed in any field of life because it allows an individual to interact, communicate and get along with others effectively. When a person gets along with others in the team, group, classroom, work setting or social setting he or she is able to work effectively and this effectiveness leads to great accomplishments. And imagine about the level or volume of accomplishments if everyone in the team gets along with one another.

In recent decades, a great emphasis is being placed on developing interpersonal skills of young children, when they learn to get along in their classroom from very young age, they will be prepared to cope with challenges beyond their classrooms.

Think differently and work to improve your interpersonal intelligence, it will allow you to get along with others easily and prepare you for the team work because team work means the blend of different talents and that leads towards highest accomplishments. As Michael Jordon said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championship”.

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