Do you ever find that you can walk into a room where you know no one, yet fifteen minutes later are best friends with everyone around you? I tend to be the wallflower at any sort of social gathering, yet my boyfriend can walk into a room and instantly strike up a conversation with anyone, no matter what gender or age or profession. By definition, interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and relate to a wide variety of people. By developing your innate understanding of people and their feelings, being able to express yourself clearly, understanding how to accurately assert your needs, influencing others and resolving conflict, you too can develop your interpersonal intelligence.
One of the first ways to begin developing these skills is by learning how to effectively communicate with others. If you’re worried about your lack of communication skills, Udemy has a great course that will help you become more eloquent and concise!
Understanding others is something that comes with time. It can be difficult to see and understand the opinions and feelings of others when you are so focused on your own feelings and desires. Understanding others requires an open mind; one that will not judge people for thoughts that differ from yours. With a true understanding of others, you can be involved in a conversation and pick up on slight changes in the other person’s tone that lead you to understand that they either like or dislike where the conversation is going. If you pick up on the fact that they are becoming offended by something you have said, you can change the path of the conversation to something more lighthearted. The same goes for body language. Once you understand how to pick up on people’s body language, you can tell what they are thinking even if they don’t voice it.
Those with a strong sense of interpersonal intelligence know how to express their feelings, beliefs and desires in a way that doesn’t offend anyone of differing beliefs around them. They find it easy to say what’s on their mind, but are open to other’s interjections during the process. When expressing yourself, it’s important to back up what you are saying. If you simply get in front of a group of people and essentially say “I believe what I believe because I say so”, then you’ll likely anger a lot of people, especially if they don’t see eye to eye with you. It’s important to be eloquent in the way you voice your beliefs and desires so that you don’t offend anyone else.
Asserting Your Needs
If someone comes up to you, gets right up in your face, and says “I want this and I want it NOW”, do you think you’d want to help them out? Probably not. Interpersonal intelligence is when you know how to get what you want in a mature way. Instead of reverting back to a childhood way of getting what you want, it’s important to voice what you want and why you want it in a calmer manner. The nicer you are when asking for favors, the more people will want to help you out.
Influencing others doesn’t necessarily mean brainwashing them to think what you want them to think. Imagine yourself as the leader of a volunteer group. You know what’s best for the group and what’s best for the community you’re helping, so you are confident standing up and speaking out about what it is you expect from the group. Because of the eloquent way in which you express yourself, those who are involved in the volunteer group will look up to you and be influenced by what you say. When this happens, they’ll agree to do whatever you ask them to – within reason and related to the volunteer work. This is what you should strive for.
Think of the last fight you were a part of. Did it involve the two of you screaming at each other, flinging around insults and smashing objects? Not the best way to go about it. Think back to that fight again, and ask yourself how things could have been resolved better. Could you have sat down and voiced your opinions, trying to see things from the other person’s point of view before getting violent? Could you have discussed how to reach a compromise that reflects the desires of both parties? Those with a strong sense of interpersonal intelligence may not always remain the calmest people in the world, but they understand how to deal with conflict so that they come out unscathed.
How Can You Develop These Skills?
One key way to begin developing your interpersonal intelligence is to interact with as many different people as possible. If you spend your days shut up alone in your room, you’ll never give yourself the opportunity to understand others! While you don’t need to jump into being the leader of a new club, it’s important to start slow and work your way up. Try out some of these ideas:
- Make a goal to meet one new person a week, whether it’s at a coffee shop or the break room at work.
- Join a local club related to something you have an interest in. You’ll find it easier to speak to others if you know you already have something in common.
- Spend at least a half hour a day trying to better understand your significant other, sibling or roommate.
- Strike up a conversation with someone when waiting in line.
- Spend at least fifteen minutes a day people watching and trying to determine what they are feeling based on their body language.
- Join a volunteer group that works directly with others.
How many other ways can you think of that would help you develop your interpersonal intelligence? Try at least one new thing from this list a week and notice how much it changes the way you interact with others. The main thing to remember is to stay calm, cool, collected and empathetic. The more you work on these four qualities, the better your relationships will be with those around you.
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