How to Teach Kids with Interpersonal Intelligence
When we talk about “intelligence” most of the time, we think about kids and adults who spend a lot of time in lecture halls and libraries quietly studying. Over the years, the concept of intelligence has evolved.
Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner came up with the concept of multiple intelligences, which challenges the traditional notion of intelligence (IQ) as a singular ability. One of the eight intelligences that Gardner presented is “interpersonal intelligence” – the ability to communicate and interact effectively with others. People who have high interpersonal intelligence are known to be excellent communicators. His theory was explained in his book “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.”
The Gift and Skill of Relating to Others
Having interpersonal intelligence is both a gift and a skill. Some have this natural talent for communicating, but those who do not have a natural talent can learn it. Those who have this gift can pick up on other people’s moods, temperaments, and motivations without the other person saying it.
Gardner presented Anne Sullivan as a good example of a person with high interpersonal intelligence. Anne Sullivan, who had little formal training in special education and was partially blind, taught a young Helen Keller. Helen Keller was a disabled child who lost her sense of sight and hearing at just nine months old. Anne Sullivan gave Helen Keller the tools she needed to overcome her disabilities so she could succeed later on in life. Helen Keller became a lecturer and disability rights activist as an adult.
In this example, you can see how Anne Sullivan was able to use her strengths to help Helen Keller. Despite her limitations, she was able to build a strong lifelong relationship with Helen Keller. In the end, they helped each other realize their full potential and overcome disability.
People with Interpersonal Intelligence
Other well-known people who have high interpersonal intelligence include Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Oprah Winfrey. They are known to have the ability to communicate and connect with people—one can say that they are quite influential.
Those who have high interpersonal intelligence might have potential in the field of teaching, counseling, sales, and public speaking. Their common characteristics include being adaptive and having the ability to think out of the box. They can come up with solutions that are creative and innovative.
It’s a common misconception that all interpersonally intelligent people are outgoing, gregarious social butterflies. However, shy, introverted people can have this ability; after all, it’s all about communicating effectively and forming connections with people.
Building on the Gift of Interpersonal Intelligence in the Classroom
Interpersonal skills can be taught in the classroom by giving peer-to-peer work, group tasks, and requiring students to deliver presentations. Tasks like these encourage students to work in teams—share ideas, delegate tasks, negotiate which parts of working on.
To help students develop interpersonal intelligence, they can be encouraged to head class meetings, organize small and big group activities, and even become student leaders. Pair a student with high interpersonal intelligence with shy and introverted classmates.
Those who are perceived to be high in interpersonal intelligence can benefit from being allowed to participate in as many activities as their current workload. They can model these skills to their classmates so that others will be encouraged to engage with others.
Summary It would be great if parents and teachers could identify the type of intelligence that their child possesses. Knowing that will help the adult identify the strengths and areas for improvement of each student. Interpersonal intelligence is a natural ability, but it can also be learned. Incorporate some of the strategies suggested in the previous section to strengthen this ability.