In his book Frames of Mind, Dr. Howard Gardner made the revolutionary statement that individuals possess several forms of intelligence. He concluded that we are all intelligent in a variety of different ways, and even if we didn’t receive great grades in school, we can still be extremely intelligent in other areas. Two of these areas are intra-personal intelligence and inter-personal intelligence.
Intra-personal intelligence is defined as how well you get along with yourself. If is how well you know yourself, understand yourself, and are clear about your strengths and weaknesses, your values, opinions, goals, and dreams. People with high levels of intra-personal intelligence are extremely aware of who they are, and who they are not. This enables them to be honest and objective with themselves, and as a result, they are more honest and objective with others.
Intra-personal intelligence is the foundation upon which another intelligence, inter-personal intelligence, is built.
Inter-personal intelligence is an ability to communicate, negotiate, interact, persuade, and influence other people. People who are successful in all businesses requiring active interaction with other people, such as salespeople, managers, counselors, consultants, and lawyers all have a high degree of inter-personal intelligence.
You can increase your intelligence in any area by learning and practicing in that area. And perhaps the most important intelligence you can consciously and purposefully develop is your inter-personal intelligence. That’s because forming and maintaining relationships is vital to both your professional success and your self-image-your intra-personal intelligence.
Our personalities are largely shaped by the way people react to us. Our only indication as to who we are at a young age is the way people treat us. If people treat us with kindness, respect, and good humor, we eventually conclude that we are pretty good people who deserve kindness, respect, and proper treatment.
Psychologists have identified three basic social needs that we all have: inclusion, control, and affection.
The first, inclusion, is the need to feel that we belong, that we are included in families, work groups, social groups, business organizations, and professional associations. We need to feel wanted, accepted, and important.
The second social need we have is the desire for control. Psychologists have concluded that the basis for a positive mental attitude is a sense of control. We are happy to the degree to which we feel we have a certain amount of control over our life. We are unhappy to the degree to which we feel out of control. Most stress is caused by being out of control of some part of our life that is important to us.
The third social need we all have is the desire for affection. It is hard to live without the knowledge that someone cares about us. Sometimes, just knowing that even one single person, somewhere, cares about us is enough to give meaning to our entire lives.
In publishing circles, there is an expression: a work in progress. This is a book that has been scheduled for publication but which is not yet complete; the author is still working on it, at one stage or another. Each of us is a work in progress. Each of us is born and grows up immature and inexperienced in the ways of the world. Over time, and with a lot of hard knocks, we develop a greater depth of character and personality. And all of our lessons are learned in the crucible of human contact.
There are certain parts of your personality that will remain completely untouched and undeveloped unless and until you enter into deep, meaningful, intimate, emotional relationships with people you love and who love you in return. It is only then that you develop the depth of personality that makes you a more interesting and complete individual.
On the wall of my fist Karate Dojo was a sign that said, “The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.” I think that is the ultimate aim of life as well as the perfection of the character of its participants. And it is hardly possible for you to become everything you are capable of becoming without the lessons that come through relationships with people for whom you care deeply, and who, in turn, care deeply for you.
Relationships can be extremely complicated, but to build and maintain quality relationships requires only a few basic principles. Let me give you seven.
The first is the principle of trust. All relationships are ultimately based on trust. To build trust, you always keep your word. You remain consistent and dependable in everything you say and do. You become the kind of person who is utterly reliable in every situation. You never do or say anything that can shake this fundamental foundation of trust upon which your relationships are built.
The second principle is respect. Taking time to deliberately express your respect for the uniqueness of an individual makes him or her feel very valuable and important. By demonstrating that kind of respect, you build and enhance the quality of your relationship. The third principle for success in relationships is communication. In communicating well with another person, time is the critical factor. The value of a relationship can increase for both you and the other person depending on the amount of time that you invest. When you take the time to focus on the important issues of a relationship, you open the channels of communication. And when you listen attentively, calmly, quietly, and with total attention, you demonstrate the respect you have for the other person, and you deepen the level of trust between you.
The fourth principle is courtesy. When you say “please” and “thank you” on a regular basis to the people in your life, you make them feel better about themselves and about what they are doing. You raise their self-esteem. And alas, it is often with the people we care about most that we are the least courteous and polite. Emmet Fox once wrote, “If you must be rude, be rude to strangers. But save your company manners for your family.”
The fifth principle is caring. The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. The kindest thing you can do is to refrain from criticizing, condemning or complaining to them or about them. Think of yourself as a people-builder rather than a people-basher. Catch them doing something right. Always look for ways to make people feel more valuable, more respected, and more loved. The three most powerful words in any relationship are the words, “I love you.” Repeat them as often as possible and in as many different ways as possible to the most important people in your life.
The sixth principle is a combination of praise and appreciation for everything that others do for you, both large and small. When you express your appreciation to another person for something they do for you, they feel better about themselves, and they want to do more of it. And there is a kickback effect that causes your own self-esteem to go up, exactly as if you yourself had been praised.
The seventh principle for success in relationships is simply helpfulness, especially with those people with whom you live. Your constant willingness to step in and do little things to alleviate the burdens felt by your spouse and children is always appreciated and respected. This willingness to share, to contribute, to help each other is an important facet of lasting relationships.
Perhaps the most important thing you ever do in life is build and maintain long-term, happy, healthy, fulfilling relationships with other people you love and who love you. When you make everything else secondary to this central purpose, you will find yourself enjoying happiness and rewards in exponential proportion to the efforts you put in.