Multiple “Intelligences”

Today, I had an interesting interaction with a stranger. He told me about something called “multiple intelligences”, and directed me to a particular assessment thereof.

Before I get into the assessments, I want to explain what “multiple intelligences” means. In short, rather than only functioning on an intellectual level, we have many areas where we may learn easily, focus our attention, and generally feel comfortable and confident – or not. There are eight categories: logical (math), spatial, linguistic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and kinesthetic.

Logical intelligence is about reasoning, problem-solving, and, of course, mathematical relationships. Spatial intelligence is about visualizing and knowing your surroundings. Linguistic intelligence is about verbal and written communication skills. Musical intelligence is about understanding and making music. Interpersonal intelligence is about relating to others; intrapersonal intelligence is understanding yourself. Naturalistic intelligence is about understanding how nature works and being passionate about living things and living systems. Kinesthetic intelligence is about understanding and using your body, being physically active.

(As a side note, some sources cite a ninth category: Existential intelligence, which is about philosophical and religious inclinations. I agree with the addition of this, but there is less information about it than the others.)

As you read through that list, you likely have an intuitive knowledge of what your strengths and weaknesses are based on what you enjoy. If you like it, you’re probably good at it and using it all the time.

Still, it can be fun to take free online tests to see if your strengths lie where you expect. I checked out the one my stranger-friend directed me to, but I wasn’t fond of the way the results were represented (there was a graphic with no explanation, and it didn’t feel entirely accurate to me). So I found another:

This one has very detailed results and much clearer explanations. For one thing, it pointed out that any skill where you score higher than 3 is very likely one you use every day.

Now, what on earth is the point of all this? Well, the site I mentioned above is directed at educators (clearly, as it focuses on the learning styles of each group). But this got me thinking: if these are our learning styles, they are also our communication styles. So if you can get the people close to you to take the assessment, you will have some tools with which to improve your ability to communicate with them.

Even if you can’t get someone to take the assessment (or don’t feel comfortable asking them to), you can still get a pretty good idea of how they work by what they like. Communicating with them on that level will help you get your ideas across more effectively.

At the very least, you can come to understand yourself better and how you learn – and maybe practice learning in ways that don’t necessarily come as naturally! (I know I’m going to be working on my kinesthetic intelligence in a big way myself.)

(Photo sourced from Pinterest, post by Antonella Grazia; cited from

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