There's more than one way to be "smart."
In recent years, various currents of thought have proposed the existence of different kinds of intelligence, including the distinction between crystallized and fluid intelligence — proposed by Raymond Cattell — as well as Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Let’s look at some of these.
As its name indicates, this is the ability to master language. This kind of intelligence doesn’t only refer to oral language, but also writing and gestures, so it has a great deal to do with the process of communication in general.
People with a high linguistic intelligence have a special sensitivity for the meanings of words and how to construct phrases, for sounds, rhythms, and meter. Writers, poets, and translators are examples of people who stand out for their verbal/linguistic intelligence.
This is the ability to conceptualize the logical relationships between actions or symbols. In other words, it’s the ability to reason, using logic and deduction, and the ability to solve mathematical problems. Being able to solve mathematical problems quickly is the most common indicator of how much logical/mathematical intelligence a person has. Mathematicians and scientists tend to rank high in this kind of intelligence.
Spatial intelligence is defined as the capacity to observe and imagine the world and the objects within it from different points of view, as well as the ability to manipulate or create mental images to solve problems.
This kind of intelligence comprises a variety of abilities: dynamic imagination, the manipulation of images, talent for graphic arts, and strong spatial reasoning, among others. People with a high spatial intelligence are good at doing puzzles and drawing. Sculptors, architects, painters, and pilots are examples of people with high spatial intelligence.
While some people are very good at sculpting or painting, others have a great ability to compose works of music, because they are very talented at combining notes and rhythms in beautiful ways. Musically gifted people have high musical intelligence, which also allows them to play instruments, to read music, and to compose with relative ease.
This is the ability to use one’s own body well—that is to say, being good at coordinating physical movements. This kind of intelligence manifests itself in a strong connection between the mind, emotions, and movement. Actors, athletes, and dancers typically have high kinesthetic intelligence.
Some people possess a special ability to understand themselves and their own thoughts and feelings, and to regulate their own behavior, because they’re able to access their feelings and emotions and reflect on them. People who have this kind of intelligence tend to enjoy greater emotional and psychological health.
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to discern the emotions, feelings and intentions of others. It helps us to interpret their words and gestures, discerning their objectives and their goals. Politicians, professors, and actors tend to excel in this kind of intelligence.
Emotional intelligence involves both intrapersonal intelligence and interpersonal intelligence, and is composed of five elements: emotional self-awareness, emotional self-control, self motivation, empathy, and social skills. Many studies have shown that emotional intelligence brings with it many benefits: it minimizes the effects of stress, and helps prevent stress altogether; it also improves emotional well-being, interpersonal relationships, and productivity at work.
This kind of intelligence reflects the ability to make the right decisions to achieve goals working as a team, which is very necessary for businesses today—in fact, the concept arose in the context of business. Teamwork is one of the skills most sought after by recruiters, and that’s why many training courses focusing on this type of intelligence are starting to be available.
Being aware of these different kinds of intelligence can help us to understand better how human intelligence works, and above all, to discover the kind of intelligence that most characterizes us as individuals. Understanding ourselves better is the best foundation for being able to discover and develop our potential.