Interpersonal intelligence refers to the ability to understand, communicate, and develop harmonious relations with other human beings.
Individuals with high levels of interpersonal intelligence can be sensitive to other’s people’s moods and motivations, and often show compassion and kindness.
Interpersonal intelligence is one of Gardner’s 8 types of multiple intelligences.
Examples of famous people with interpersonal intelligence include Mahatma Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey and Eleanor Roosevelt.
People with this type of intelligence make good leaders when motivating others is vital. They sometimes work in the mental health profession or other occupations in which it is important to be able to understand and work well with other people.
Examples of Interpersonal Intelligence
1. Being Easy to Talk To
Have you ever met someone that is so easy to talk to there is a never a lull in the conversation?
Of course it takes two, so we might be talking about you, but in this example let’s focus on the other person. Some people just have a way of getting along with others. They are great conversationalists.
Start talking about any topic under the sun, and they can effortlessly chime-in. The words seem to flow straight from their mind to their vocal cords. They never stutter and stammer or have trouble thinking of what to say. This is one of the key attributes of someone with a lot of interpersonal intelligence. They are great communicators.
2. Being Good at Conflict Management
Being able to step into the middle of an argument can be a brave move. When people disagree about something serious, or at least something they think is serious, tempers can get quite heated.
That is why it is good to have someone nearby that has good conflict management skills. This type of person can understand each party’s point of view and show that they are respectful of those opinions.
When you can take into account the perspective of each person, it is a little bit easier to find a middle ground that all can agree to. It may not be easy, but a person with a high level of interpersonal intelligence is the perfect kind of person to help others resolve disagreements.
3. Being Good at Teamwork
Some people play well with others, and some don’t. Being able to collaborate with colleagues is a highly valued skilled in many offices.
Almost all projects require the contributions of several people; some endeavors actually require the contributions of dozens of work teams over an extended period of time. Each team has to function smoothly enough to get their tasks completed on schedule.
An individual with interpersonal intelligence is very good at working with others. They can read people’s mood and adjust their tone and comments accordingly. Sometimes reading someone’s mood means not saying anything at all. This all goes a long way to helping the team work efficiently.
4. Being Good at Public Speaking
People with a high level of interpersonal intelligence can be very good public speakers.
First of all, they feel comfortable around other people and because they usually have success interacting with others, they come across as confident. That is important when standing in front of an audience.
Interpersonal intelligence is also associated with verbal skills and emotional intelligence. So, as they are speaking, they can read the audience and adjust their comments accordingly. Their verbal skills usually translate into choosing the right words that the audience will find interesting, and maybe even inspiring. Generally speaking, a good public speaker is demonstrating interpersonal intelligence.
Examples of Jobs for People with Interpersonal Intelligence
5. Talk Show Host
Being a talk show host is a great job for a person that is very people-oriented. Because they are good communicators and have interpersonal intelligence, they are able to interact with the guest and audience simultaneously, keeping both captivated and involved in the conversation.
A good talk show host can read the emotions of their guests instantaneously and know exactly what to say and do to make them feel at ease. A guest can get very nervous appearing on a television show, so they need a host that can make them laugh and feel comfortable.
The audience wants to know more about the guest and that will never happen unless the host can get them to relax and open up. Therefore, a talk show host needs to possess interpersonal intelligence in abundance.
6. Event MC
MC stands for master of ceremonies. This is a person that plays the role of official host of an event of some kind. This event could be a charitable fundraiser, a stage performance, an awards show, or even certain types of celebrity parties.
Their main responsibility is to introduce speakers, make announcements, perhaps make a few jokes to keep the audience entertained and engaged, and keep the agenda flowing smoothly.
This means that the MC needs to possess all of the key attributes of a person with interpersonal intelligence: good communicator, good reader of people, confident and humorous when interacting with others. They likely also need good linguistic intelligence skills.
7. Mental Health Counselor
There are many types of counselors: school counselors that try to help students perform better in school, marriage counselors that try to help couples get along better, and youth development counselors that try to help teens cope with difficult family issues.
They all have at least one characteristic in common: high interpersonal intelligence. People in these professions have a strong sense of compassion and empathy for others that are struggling in life. They feel a natural urge to want to help.
Because they are good at understanding other people’s emotions and perspective, they can relate to their experiences and have the professional training necessary to offer suggestions on how to cope. They are good communicators, so when they offer that advice it will be persuasive and maybe even motivating.
A socialite is someone that spends a great deal of their time attending social events, such as fashion shows, fundraising activities, or other gatherings that involve a higher social class. And yes, being a socialite is a job; it’s just one that doesn’t pay, mainly because most socialites come from a wealthy background, or, married into one.
Today the term “socialite” has taken on an additional meaning in popular culture. In the age of Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter, “influencers” have adopted many of the same characteristics as a socialite due to their vibrant and active lifestyle.
Mingling with others and being able to converse about art and the finer things in life takes a certain degree of social skills. One must be able to communicate with others in a fluid and confident manner. It helps to have a good read of people so that one can adapt to each person at a social function smoothly and gracefully. These are the attributes of interpersonal intelligence.
The position of CEO carries a great deal of responsibility. The success or failure of an entire company can rest in their hands and their ability to lead others. As scholars have learned while studying CEOs, there are many types of leadership styles.
While some of those styles involve being good at making data-driven decisions and conducting complex, rational analyses, other leadership styles are more people-focused.
For example, the visionary leadership style involves the ability to communicate a vision and persuading others to follow along. The charismatic leader is especially good at inspiring people to excel and overcome challenges they never before thought possible.
Both of those leadership styles require high levels of interpersonal intelligence.
To convince a lot of people to vote for you in a political campaign takes interpersonal intelligence. First, you have to be a good communicator. It is necessary to speak publicly and privately, in a convincing manner. That means being confident and knowing just the right words to say that will appeal to others.
Those “others” can include a wide range of personalities. Each one of them is going to be different, with different views and temperaments, and coming from all walks of life. Being able to read each person and modify one’s communication style and rationale to match all of those variations requires a great deal of interpersonal intelligence.
Very few people that lack “people smarts” will make it very far in the political arena.
Pros of Interpersonal Intelligence
1. The Gift of Gab
The gift of gab is the ability to speak easily and confidently in a way that makes people want to listen to you.
A person with this talent has a power over words that seems to spring effortlessly. Their speaking is fluid, steady, and coherent. They seem to know a lot about everything and have no problem sounding convincing.
This is a truly great advantage to have in a world that relies so much on communication. People with interpersonal intelligence are often excellent communicators and have high verbal skills that makes it easy for them to talk to others.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Gardner had no problem acknowledging the similarities between interpersonal intelligence and emotional intelligence.
The two constructs have several overlapping attributes. For example, both contain the ability to read facial expressions and the nonverbal behavior of others. Both types of intelligence involve the deep understanding of how other people feel and seeing their point of view.
So, people with interpersonal intelligence also have emotional intelligence. That means they can more easily understand and get along with others. That pays dividends at work and in personal relationships.
Cons of Interpersonal Intelligence
1. You May Have Too Much Empathy
At first, you might think that having interpersonal intelligence is so great that what in the world could be disadvantageous about it.
Well, there are always two-sides to a coin and interpersonal intelligence is no exception.
The main difficulty with having a very high level of interpersonal intelligence is that it can give a person have too much empathy.
For example, when trying to make a decision about a moral dilemma that involves multiple parties, a person with interpersonal intelligence can become lost in a kind of internal struggle that makes it difficult for them to find a resolution.
They can see the pros and cons of each person’s role so well that it makes it difficult for them to be decisive one way or another.
2. You May Be Easily Distracted
Being very people-oriented can make it difficult to stay on-task. Instead of focusing on doing one’s work or reading, people with interpersonal intelligence can get easily distracted.
They want to know what other people are doing.
You can see a great example of this in a kindergarten classroom. While most students are completely immersed in their coloring page, there might be one little girl (or boy) that is always looking around at what others are doing. They might get up and walk over to several classmates to get a better look and make a few comments.
In an office setting, there may be some employees that spend a lot of time talking to others and constantly looking around the office to see what their colleagues are doing. Instead of being task-focused, they just can’t help but to wonder what other people are up to.
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