Increasing your interpersonal intelligence can open the door to even greater career advancement

In today's increasingly interactive world, interpersonal intelligence seems to be more important than ever before. As a result, companies around the world are on the market for candidates who have the ability to understand a diverse range of personality types and interact with people in a productive way. As a job candidate, your ability to relate to, and connect with, other people can be a critical factor in determining your overall career success.

In this post, we'll explore the concept of interpersonal intelligence and explain why it's such an important ability for employees. We'll also examine eight skills that you can develop to enhance your own interpersonal intelligence.

Interpersonal intelligence: what is it?

Interpersonal intelligence is one of the multiple intelligences first proposed by a Harvard psychologist named Howard Gardner in his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In that book, Gardner theorized that there were different types of intelligence beyond traditional IQ and that people possessed multiple intelligences. Gardner's multiple intelligence theory argues that these various intelligences combine in each person to form their own unique “cognitive profile.”

Interpersonal intelligence, which is also referred to as PQ, is one of Gardner's eight intelligences. It identifies a person's overall ability to understand others on an emotional level and know how to interact with them in any given situation. Individuals with high PQ always seem to be adept at navigating personal interactions at work, in public, and in social settings. They are skilled in the art of both verbal and nonverbal communication, and often make effective leaders and managers in business.

How interpersonal intelligence differs from emotional intelligence

At first glance, interpersonal intelligence might seem to be just another way to describe emotional intelligence, or EQ. Of course, people with strong interpersonal intelligence do possess high emotional intelligence as well. The difference is that they also tend to possess other abilities like adaptability, positivity, stress management, and powerful communication skills. Put simply, high interpersonal intelligence goes beyond emotional intelligence.

Why is interpersonal intelligence so important?

It should be easy to see why interpersonal intelligence can be so important in life and in the work environment. People who possess a high PQ are able to communicate effectively with almost anyone and are able to establish strong relationships built on trust and understanding. Obviously, that's powerful in any team-oriented workplace, but it can also yield many benefits in a person's private life as well. This type of intelligence involves transferable skills that have useful applications in many different job roles.

8 interpersonal intelligence skills you can develop to improve your PQ

Like other examples of Gardner's eight intelligences, interpersonal intelligence is not something that people are born with. The skills that collectively shape this type of intelligence are all abilities and traits that can be learned and developed over time. We've identified eight of these core PQ abilities that you can focus on to improve your own interpersonal intelligence.

1.      Build relationships with real meaning

One of the most important things that you can do to develop your interpersonal intelligence is to commit to forging real, meaningful bonds with other people. In our fast-paced world, it's easy to neglect these deeper bonds and instead settle for superficial connections. To improve your relationship skills, get to really know the people around you by asking meaningful questions about their lives, thought processes, and aspirations. Spend more time listening than speaking, and really work on deepening those relationship bonds.

2.      Learn to resolve conflicts

You should also be dedicated to ensuring peace in your inner circle, both at home and at work. People with strong PQ tend to excel at conflict resolution, so practice skills that can help you to settle disputes and promote harmony. Whenever you see conflict developing, try to mediate the dispute in a nonjudgmental way that focuses on finding common ground. Commit yourself to being that one person that everyone around you knows that they can come to for help when they have an interpersonal conflict.

3.      Develop your observation skills

Since nonverbal communication is such an important component of interpersonal intelligence, you should endeavor to be a student of facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone. Watch how the people around you communicate without words to get a better sense of how they express themselves. Over time, that skill can help you to quickly identify their needs, which can make you a better negotiator and improve your conflict resolution abilities.

4.      Improve your negotiation skills

Negotiation is a vital skill for anyone who has to navigate complex interpersonal relationships. At its core, negotiation is the art of figuring out what people want and creating solutions that can satisfy those concerns. One way to develop this skill is to train yourself to focus on asking people why they want something. That information is vital to know if you want to find a compromise or other solution that can actually meet their wants and needs.

5.      Focus on empathy

Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in somebody else's shoes and understand what they are experiencing and how they feel. Without empathy, you'll always struggle to relate to other people. As a result, it's important to develop this skill as much as possible, so that your interactions with others can be truly meaningful. When you encounter someone who's having a tough time, try asking them to talk about their feelings. Then imagine yourself facing that same situation so that you better understand why they feel the way they do.

Remember also that empathy is an important tool for expanding your own perspective. Every time you try to empathize with another's point of view, you have an opportunity to gain new insight into the world around you. This increased understanding can help you to sharpen your other interpersonal skills in ways that further increase your interpersonal intelligence.

6.      Prioritize encouragement

Another important area that you can work on relates to the way in which you deliver criticism or praise. People with high PQ almost instinctively rely on some type of encouragement in all their interactions, even when offering advice for improvement. This enables them to be seen as agents for positive change, which inspires trust and deepens relationships. You can practice this encouraging tone by ensuring that all of your interactions with coworkers are focused on encouraging them to leverage their strengths.

7.      Use words to inspire

People with high interpersonal intelligence are often some of the most positive influences in their social and work environments. You can improve your skills in that area by emphasizing positivity in all your interactions. Always look for the best part of any bad situation and focus on that positive to minimize any negatives. Guard your words carefully and make sure that the messages you deliver to others are always designed to inspire them to reach their full potential.

8.      Be fully engaged

Of course, none of this will mean anything unless you're fully engaged in your job role and relationships outside of work. Practice active listening to ensure that you're always cognizant of others' needs and desires, fully commit to your team and its success, and be aware and mindful of the sensitivities of others in your workplace. The more engaged you are, the easier it will be to hone your interpersonal intelligence skills and increase your ability to effectively leverage those abilities to advance your career.

In addition to engaging with your team and your own professional duties, you can also look for opportunities to share your expertise with others. That can include becoming a mentor or just offering to teach a coworker a skill that they may be lacking. By doing so, you can learn more about your coworkers, build even greater trust and team cohesion, and solidify your status as a valued colleague.

Become the leader you were meant to be

As you develop your interpersonal intelligence, you'll also be building core abilities and traits essential for effective leadership. Most leaders are limited only by the extent to which they are able to understand other people and figure out how to inspire and motivate them to join their cause. By increasing your own skills in these areas, you'll raise your interpersonal intelligence and elevate your own ability to lead others!

Though interpersonal intelligence is not a commonly discussed concept, it's easy to see why it can play such an important role in any employees' career success. By learning about these key interpersonal skills, how they impact your PQ, and what you can do to improve in those areas, you can develop the interpersonal intelligence you need to succeed in any work environment.

Want to ensure that your resume properly conveys your interpersonal intelligence? Get your free resume review from our trusted experts today!

Recommended reading:

Related Articles: