Successful People Have More Than One Kind Of Smart

Successful People Have More Than One Kind Of Smart

Being deemed smart is a highly sought-after trait, and one that few folks realize is multilayered. Successful people understand that there is more than one kind of smart.



(logical/mathematical intelligence) is most often associated with what we call scientific reasoning. This smart involves the capacity to recognize patterns, work with abstract symbols (such as numbers and geometric shapes), and see relationships or connections between separate pieces of information.

Do you have strong analytical skills, are drawn to quantitative problems, and are naturally comfortable with reasoning?


(verbal/linguistic intelligence) centers on understanding and using words, either orally or in writing. This intelligence is responsible for the production of language and all the complex possibilities that follow, including poetry, humor, storytelling, grammar, metaphors, symbolic thinking, reading, and writing.

Do you think about how and when to deliver a message as well as carefully consider the person to whom you’re delivering it?


(visual/spatial intelligence) deals with the visual arts (painting, drawing, and sculpting); navigation, mapmaking, and architecture (which involve the use of space and knowing how to get around in it); and games such as chess (which require the ability to visualize objects from different perspectives and angles). The sense of sight is key to this smart, but the ability to form mental images and pictures in the mind is also paramount.

Do you have the capacity to perceive the visual world accurately and to transform, manipulate, and re-create mental images?


(naturalist intelligence) involves the ability to discern, comprehend, and appreciate the various flora and fauna of the world of nature as opposed to the world created by human beings.

Do you have an interest in and are you drawn to aspects of the natural world where you are highly observant when it comes to plants, animals, rocks, butterflies, or anything else found in nature?


(musical/rhythmic intelligence) includes such capacities as the recognition and the use of rhythmic and tonal patterns, and sensitivity to sounds from the environment, the human voice, and musical instruments.

Do you encompass the ability to compose and perform musical patterns, and recognize pitches, tones, and rhythms?


(bodily/kinesthetic intelligence) is the ability to use the body to express emotion (as in dance and body language), to play a game (as in sports), and to create a new product (as in invention). Refinement of either or both large and small motor skills are central in this smart.

Do you have a keen awareness and ability to manipulate your body in space, and time to execute something?


(interpersonal intelligence) involves the ability to work cooperatively with others in a group as well as the ability to communicate, verbally and nonverbally, with other people. It builds on the capacity to differentiate moods, temperaments, motivation, and intentions.

Do you have an affinity for relationships, understanding, dissecting, and prioritizing relationships between you and others?


(intrapersonal intelligence) involves knowledge of the internal aspects of the self, such as knowledge of feelings, the range of emotional responses, thinking processes, and self-reflection. This intelligence allows us to step back from ourselves and watch ourselves as an observer.

Do you have the capacity to detect and discern among your own feelings (self-knowledge) and the ability to use that knowledge for personal understanding?

Do You Have More Than One Kind Of Smart?

  • Every person possesses and has a unique blend of all eight intelligences, but some intelligences will be stronger than others in each person.
  • Even within one area of intelligence, a child may show a range of strengths and weaknesses. For example in word smart, a child may write well, but be a poor speller.
  • Although the intelligences are independent, they do not operate in isolation.
  • By acknowledging the wide variety of intelligences, every person has a chance to shine in some areas of their lives.
  • Knowing one’s unique blend of intelligences aids in the exploration of careers.
  • All occupations involve several intelligences, though one may be the most prevalent.
  • Different tasks within an occupation may involve different combinations of smarts.

Summaries are from: Lazear, David. 1999. Eight Ways of Teaching: The Artistry of Teaching with Multiple Intelligences, Third Edition. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight Training and Publishing

Why is People Smart So Important?

What Is It?

People smarts (or interpersonal intelligence) is the ability to perceive and respond to the moods, intentions, and feelings of other people. This includes being sensitive to facial expressions, voice, and gestures and the ability to respond effectively to those cues. In other words, people who have highly developed people smarts are very attuned to other people. They have developed a wide array of social skills that they rely on in their person-to-person communications. More importantly, people with great people smart intelligence normally have great self smart abilities.

How They Learn

People who are people smart naturally learn best through interactions with others. It is the type of learning that occurs when they work with and relate to others as part of a team. They learn best through discussions, cooperative learning activities, and brainstorming. As such, they tend to thrive in smaller class environments where there is more opportunity to share thoughts and ideas.

People Smarts & Careers

People smart people have no shortage of career options available to them. They are well suited for occupations that involve understanding others, listening to their issues and problems, and communicating effectively either person-to person or in group situations. They can empathize easily and are especially good at occupations that require active listening, interpersonal communications, and conflict resolution skills, such as teachers, public relations specialists, and customer service personnel. However, the ability to get along with others and work as part of a team are highly valued in nearly any occupation. Being a “people person” doesn’t hurt when you are trying to persuade someone to join your cause, use your service, or buy your product.

Keep This in Mind

Look at the big picture – You probably have and use most of the eight intelligences to some degree or another throughout your daily life. You may even excel at multiple intelligences and use them effectively in your career. That’s why it can be useful to understand each of the eight intelligences and learn how other people that are viewed as successful behave. Seeing the Big Picture requires you to see beyond your own situation, expectations and intentions.

Develop career aspirations – The theory of multiple intelligences can help you explore intelligences you possess and then use this knowledge to help you make career choices. Remember that we normally chose occupations that we know about.  Open yourself up to learning how your smart skills align to roles and responsibilities that you may not be familiar with.  Those untraditional roles.  Learning more about your smart skills can help you explore many occupations related to your intelligences that you might not have considered before.

Embrace your strengths – Remember that multiple intelligences stretch over a wide spectrum of abilities, not just those traditionally valued by society, such as English and math. Now is your chance to see the different ways that you are intelligent and to capitalize on your strengths.

Don’t ignore hidden intelligences – The theory of multiple intelligences allows you to identify and work to develop your hidden or underdeveloped intelligences. It is never too late to awaken unused abilities. Doing so can even open career paths that you will find more productive and rewarding.

Do You Have People Smart Workplace Skills?

  • Can you persuading others to change their minds or behavior?
  • Are you aware of others’ reactions and understand why they react as such by determining their intentions?
  • Can you talk to others to convey information effectively considering their body language, culture, personality and expectations?
  • Do you provide personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others without it having to be your role or responsibility?


Resources Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, Howard Gardner 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences, Thomas Armstrong

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