Ever found yourself in a room full of people, conversing and laughing, but feeling like an outsider? That sense of disconnection—the feeling that you’re speaking a different language—could be due to your interpersonal intelligence (PQ).
This skill that we all possess can help foster deeper connections with others. It’s as Lisa Nichols, the CEO of Motivating the Masses and trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest, says, “Language is one of the most powerful connectors on the planet, as well as one of the quickest ways to disconnect.”
The reality is, we’re all familiar with how disheartening being misunderstood or disconnected can be. But the better your PQ, the better your communication skills will be, and the less you’ll be misunderstood and feel disconnected.
What Is Interpersonal Intelligence?
Interpersonal (“inter” meaning “between”) refers to communication or interaction that occurs between people. And so, the “interpersonal intelligence” definition, in a nutshell, is how you’re able to effectively communicate with others.
But why is interpersonal intelligence important, you ask? Essentially, it enables you to relate to and understand the motives and actions of others.
It fosters understanding, empathy, and harmonious interactions in both personal and professional spheres. And in turn, it helps you build meaningful relationships, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and excel in leadership.
Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner proposed it in 1983 as part of his theory of intelligence. He didn’t agree with the old way of measuring human intelligence just by IQ points and tests. Instead, he thought intelligence had many different parts, and interpersonal was one of them.
What are the seven types of intelligence?
- Linguistic intelligence relates to words and language, both written and spoken. It’s all about expressing oneself clearly and understanding others effectively.
- Kinesthetic intelligence involves body movement and physical coordination. It’s about using one’s body effectively to solve problems or express oneself.
- Logical intelligence refers to the ability to think analytically, solve problems, and understand complex and abstract ideas. People with high logical intelligence are usually good with numbers and logic puzzles.
- Spatial intelligence involves understanding and remembering the spatial relations among objects. People with high spatial intelligence are usually good at visualizing and mentally manipulating objects.
- Musical intelligence relates to sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, and music. It involves the ability to recognize, create, and appreciate musical pitches, timbre, rhythm, and tone.
- Interpersonal intelligence involves understanding and interacting with others. People with high PQ are good at understanding and responding to the feelings, motivations, and desires of others.
- Intrapersonal intelligence involves understanding oneself and one’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations. It’s about having a deep awareness of one’s strengths, weaknesses, and desires.
So, while interpersonal intelligence helps us connect with others, it’s only one part of the bigger intelligence picture that makes us the complex, capable beings we are.
Interpersonal vs. Emotional vs. Intrapersonal Intelligence
Interpersonal, intrapersonal, and emotional intelligence often get mixed up in a semantic waltz due to their similar names. But each brings a unique step to the dance of understanding ourselves and others.
Let’s line them up side by side.
|Type of Intelligence||What It Is||How It Works|
|Interpersonal Intelligence||The knack for understanding others and forming effective relationships. High PQ is all about understanding other people’s feelings and motivations.||It’s your external focus, your secret sauce for navigating social situations and understanding others.|
|Intrapersonal Intelligence||The capacity for understanding oneself and recognizing one’s feelings, fears, and motivations.||This is your introspective side. Your inner mirror reflects your own emotions and how they stir your thoughts and actions.|
|Emotional Intelligence||The combined force of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. The ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions as well as understand those of others.||The internal and external combo. It’s your emotional Swiss Army knife, integrating self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.|
So, while interpersonal vs. intrapersonal intelligence is a comparison of understanding others versus understanding ourselves, emotional intelligence takes the cake by combining the two.
Remember, though, that it’s not a battle between types of intelligence. Consider them the unique flavor notes in the symphony of your mental faculties, working in harmony to enrich your understanding of yourself and your interactions with others.
Famous People With High PQ
People with high PQ can be seen everywhere—from schools to big companies. But it’s most evident in the interpersonal intelligence of a famous person, with their ability to connect with others, motivate millions, and make history.
Here are eight famous people who are great examples of high interpersonal intelligence:
- Oprah Winfrey has been able to connect with her guests and audiences on a profound level due to her empathetic interviewing style.
- Nelson Mandela’s ability to understand and empathize with different factions in South Africa was instrumental in ending apartheid.
- Mother Teresa touched countless lives with her ability to understand and care for people’s emotional and physical needs.
- Mahatma Gandhi‘s ability to empathize and connect with people was key to mobilizing a non-violent mass movement for India’s independence.
- Dalai Lama has the natural ability to connect with people, regardless of their faith or nationality, which underscores his high interpersonal intelligence.
While these examples are of people who’ve made their mark on the grand stage, the power of high PQ isn’t confined to the famous or influential. This gift is something everyone can hone, even you.
And in doing so, it fosters greater understanding, empathy, and unity in our everyday interactions.
Experts at Mindvalley with high PQ you can learn from
Mindvalley houses experts with high PQ—masters of interpersonal intelligence and captivating communication. Here are three you can learn from:
- Vishen, the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, has used his effective communication skills to create a global education movement that fosters transformative learning and connection. In his Be Extraordinary Quest, you can learn the power of language and how it can create your reality.
- Vanessa Van Edwards, as a behavioral investigator, uses her interpersonal intelligence to decipher human behavior and teach others to do the same. In her Magnetic Charisma Quest, you’ll find out how to use your authentic charisma and sound powerfully confident.
- Lisa Nichols’ skills as a renowned orator have made her one of the most captivating speakers in the personal development space. In her Speak and Inspire Quest, you’ll discover the most effective and life-giving use of your voice.
Their expertise can help you unlock your own potential to become a more charismatic, influential, and connected individual.
How Does a Person With High Interpersonal Intelligence Behave?
High interpersonal intelligence doesn’t mean being the life of the party, nor does it necessitate a resume filled with leadership roles. It’s a more subtle and complex ability, beautifully woven into the fabric of our everyday interactions.
People with high PQ, or “people smart” individuals, exhibit certain behaviors that distinguish them from the crowd. And here are some of them to note:
- Adept at easily detecting and understanding other people’s emotions.
- Possess a knack for sensing the motives and intentions of others.
- Exhibit the ability to adapt their behavior according to the situation or person they interact with.
- Demonstrate effective skills in influencing and persuading others.
- Enjoy social interactions and excel in team settings.
- Display a high degree of empathy and are skilled in helping others resolve conflicts.
A 2004 study showed that individuals with this type of intelligence are more successful in their personal and professional lives. This research reinforces the importance of developing and nurturing this type of intelligence.
So, the next time you see someone effortlessly navigating a social situation or resolving a conflict with ease, remember that it’s not magic—it’s high PQ.
And the truth of it all? We all have the potential to develop it.
How Do You Develop Interpersonal Intelligence?
“People skills are the social lubricant of life,” says Vanessa Van Edwards, who’s also the trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest. So to enhance your interpersonal intelligence, it’s important to give it some exercise, just like a muscle.
Here are three actionable tips to help you flex and improve your interpersonal intelligence:
1. Practice empathy
Put on your empathy shoes and take a stroll from someone else’s perspective. Because it’s not easy to communicate effectively if you can’t acknowledge and understand where others are coming from.
One study, for example, found that practicing empathy can lead to improved social connections and relationship satisfaction. And so, when you’re consciously empathetic, you not only enhance your PQ but also connect with others on a deeper and more intimate level.
Insight from Vanessa Van Edwards: “Being a highlighter is about constantly searching for the good in people. When you tell people they are good, they become better. When you search for what’s good, you feel great.”
2. Cultivate curiosity
Curiosity serves as a bridge that connects individuals on a deeper level. It ignites a sense of wonder, encourages empathy, and nurtures a genuine desire to connect with others.
Research shows that “feel good” conversations release “feel good” neurochemicals, especially dopamine. So by showing interest, you create a safe space that encourages others to share their experiences and thoughts. And with open-ended questions, you’re inviting others into a meaningful conversation.
Furthermore, curiosity broadens your own horizons. Expanding your knowledge enriches your perspective and boosts your ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds.
Insight from Vanessa Van Edwards: “When you produce dopamine during a conversation, you not only give your partner more enjoyment, you are also assigned more significance, which increases your memorability.”
3. Decode nonverbal cues
Sometimes, the unspoken speaks volumes. So pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
“Body language is a powerful tool you can use to influence others and to succeed in business and personal relationships,” explains Barbara Pease, co-trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Body Language: Truth, Lies, Love & Power Quest.
Research even suggests that nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of the emotional impact of face-to-face communication. A warm smile, a gentle touch, or a nod of understanding can convey messages of empathy and connection that words alone cannot express.
Insight from Barbara Pease: “People who are often described as ‘perceptive’ are those who can read the body language’s words, sentences, and punctuation and can accurately match them against what’s being said.”
4. Become an active listener
Active listening is a huge component of interpersonal intelligence. Becoming an active listener means acknowledging when someone else has the floor. It means showing that you’re attentive, receptive, and respectful.
The next time you’re chatting with a coworker or family member, try practicing active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and, most importantly, not interrupting.
Too often, we’re so eager to interject our own two cents that we’re not really paying attention to what’s being said to us. In the next conversation you have, do your best not to interrupt and let the speaker know you’re really and truly hearing what they have to say.
Insight from Lisa Nichols: “It’s your responsibility to show the world how to treat you by the way in which you treat yourself.”
5. Be an active member of the team
In our daily lives, we participate in all sorts of teams. Maybe you’re part of a work team. Perhaps you have a sport or hobby. Even our families are a type of team.
Being an active team member goes beyond the fulfillment of your basic duties. A real team player cares about the performance of the entire team, not just their own.
Here are a few strategies for becoming a more active team member:
- Acknowledge the contributions of others
- Ask for help when you need it
- Don’t be afraid to take the lead
- Anticipate the needs of your teammates
- Maintain an optimistic outlook
All these strategies can help you improve your interpersonal skills. And the more you use them, the more you’ll benefit.
Insight from Lisa Nichols: “Do you realize that your love, your peace, your joy, your bliss can be so powerful in you that it becomes contagious, and people just want to be around you and they don’t even know why?”
Speak, Connect, and Conquer
Interpersonal intelligence is a remarkable skill that holds the power to transform your relationships, communication, and overall connection with the world. So why not take a step towards unleashing its potential within you?
At Mindvalley, you can dive deeper into the realm of interconnectedness. And here’s where you can start:
- Speak and Inspire Quest with Lisa Nichols. Master the power of your voice to make a massive positive impact and become an influential communicator.
- Magnetic Charisma Quest with Vanessa Van Edwards. Discover how to better connect with people, enhance your charisma, and create meaningful connections.
- Mastering Body Language: Truth, Lies, Love & Power Quest with Allan and Barbara Pease. Unlock a deeper understanding of others’ responses and gain a competitive edge in social situations.
The first few lessons of their quests (as well as others) are accessible when you sign up for a free Mindvalley account. And there’s a wealth of insights, tools, and practices that can help elevate your interactions.
As one Mindvalley member say:
I’m definitely more present in who I am and what I am to the world around me that I interact with.— Prakash Radhakrishnan, operations manager and caregiver, in the Speak and Inspire Quest
The understanding of people through their behaviors and adapting my behavior effortlessly to bring out the best in them and me at the same time is super empowering and a big highlight of this course for me.— Nidhi Sood, freelance artist, in the Magnetic Charisma Quest
Imagine the possibilities that await when you unlock a greater sense of connection, understanding, and influence. Because if it could happen for them, it can happen for you, too.
Images generated on Midjourney except for the ones of the Mindvalley trainers.