Last week I blogged about emotional intelligence. This time, I thought we could look at one of the components of emotional intelligence – relationship skills. Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. According to his work, two personal intelligences, intra- and inter-personal intelligences, are important aspects of a personal overall intellectual functioning.
High intrapersonal intelligence refers to being able to access your own emotions, discern your feelings, and understand personal strengths and weaknesses. It includes good self-knowledge and analysis, internal organization, impulse control and creativity.
Interpersonal intelligence refers to discerning the moods of people around you, and choosing an appropriate method of responding. Components of this intelligence includes social analytical skills, leadership skills, negotiating skills, and social connections.
Both forms of personal intelligence enable children to manage their own emotional workings – something that can be challenging for our gifted youth. Strengths in this area form the basis of good problem solving skills, decision-making and discernment.
So how do we help nurture these forms of intelligence? Most researchers in this field agree that there are four distinct skills utilized in the development of personal intelligences: Empathy, Nonverbal Communication, Listening, and Conflict Resolution Skills. Developing these areas is the best way to increase and develop personal intelligence.
Empathy: This term refers to a person’s ability to see the world from someone’s perspective. It is the foundation of all social skills. When it develops naturally in a child, it is a direct outgrowth of self-awareness. Toddlers begin to see the world from their kid-centered view and move into an understanding of those outside of them as they develop. At this point is when parents can see the seeds of empathy take root, as a toddler will often seek to console someone in pain. As childhood continues, children begin to understand the impact of social situations of others.
I’ll give you an example in our house. From the time the children were born, we have told them that part of our job as people on the planet is to learn how to get along with all the other people on the planet. “We aren’t the only ones here,” I often say. “Our needs and rights do not supersede the needs and rights of others, just as their need and rights do not supersede ours. The goal is to find what is common between us and go from there.”
Everything I do moves in the direction of those words. When I get cut off on the freeway, I say “Wow, I guess that person forgot they weren’t the only ones on the road”, when someone treats me poorly I say something similar. Every moment becomes an opportunity to teach empathy.
Perspective taking is something schools do as well. Part of the language arts curriculum focuses on writing from different characters points of view. Guess what – that is perspective taking. And that builds empathy!
Next post…Nonverbal Communication Skills.