Monday Mornings with Madison

Understanding Multiple Intelligences, Part 1

Most any employer can give countless examples of employees who are highly productive in the workplace but who would likely perform poorly on an IQ test.  The average entrepreneur himself might be an example of how IQ scores are ineffective indicators of workplace performance and success.  It is no wonder, then, that most workplaces pay little attention to “intelligence” as a factor in staff hiring.  Virtually no employer asks for a person’s IQ score to determine if the person is qualified for a job.  Perhaps that would be different, though, if what was considered intelligence in oneself and others was redefined to recognize that there are many different kinds of intelligence.

In 1983, Multiple Intelligence Theory was first proposed by Professor Howard Gardner in his ground breaking book, Frames of Mind. His work broadened the understanding of human intelligence.  According to Gardner, the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, people possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways.  He referred to these as the “intelligences” we possess in order to know the world.  According to Gardner’s original list, there were seven intelligences including:  language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves.  Since then, an additional intelligence – naturalist – was added to the list.  Gardner indicated that the strength of each intelligence and the ways in which intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains differs from person to person.

Given this, it stands to reason that cultivating a more intelligent workforce could increase an organization’s productivity, service, profitability and staff satisfaction.  After all, if a person’s intelligences have such a profound impact in how the person remembers, performs and understands tasks, it stands to reason that people with certain intelligences would be more suited for occupations that require those intelligences.  While almost every career uses a blend of several intelligences, some intelligences are more important than others depending on the job.  The idea then would be to hire people whose key intelligences best fit the job.  So what are the eight intelligences and what occupations best align with each?

The Eight Intelligences.

1.  Visual-Spatial Intelligence

People with high visual-spatial intelligence think in terms of physical space.  They are very aware of their environment. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, and daydream. They learn best through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools they understand best include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.

Some Occupations for Visual-Spatial: Architects, Builders, Engineers, Sailors, Interior Decorators, Landscapers, Computer Programmer, Film Animator, Graphic Artist, Photographer, Pilot, Surveyor.

2.  Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

People with strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence use their bodies effectively.  They have a keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, and touching things. They communicate well through body language and learn best through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, and role playing.  They learn best by seeing someone do a task and then doing the task themselves.  Tools include equipment and real objects.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Occupations: Surgeon, Athlete, Dancer, Computer Game Designer, Firefighter, Forest Ranger, Jeweler, Mechanic, Personal Fitness Trainer, Physical Therapist, Physical Education Teacher

3.  Musical Intelligence

Folks with high musical intelligence show keen sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They learn by turning information into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, and tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.

Musical Intelligence Occupations: Audiologist, Orchestra Conductor, Music Teacher, Recording Engineer, Sound Editor, Speech Pathologist, Piano Tuner, Singer, Songwriter, Musician

4.  Interpersonal Intelligence

People with elevated interpersonal intelligence make sense of the world by interacting with others. They understand the world through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, and street smarts. They learn through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from an instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.

Interpersonal Intelligence Occupations: Administrator, Communications Manager, Cruise Director, Customer Service Rep, Mediator, Human Resources Manager, Nurse, Politician, Psychologist, Salesperson, Social Worker, Teacher

5.  Intrapersonal Intelligence

Individuals with exalted intrapersonal intelligence view the world through their own interests and goals. They tend to shy away from others. They’re in tune with their inner feelings.  They have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They learn through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.

Intrapersonal Intelligence Occupations: Artist, Criminologist, Program Planner, Entrepreneur, Data Analyst, Psychologist, Researcher, Theologian, Therapist, Wellness Counselor

6.  Linguistic Intelligence

Persons with superior linguistic intelligence know how to use words effectively. They have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, and making up poetry or stories. They learn by saying and seeing words and reading books. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.

Linguistic Intelligence Occupations: Attorney, Communications Specialist, Curator, Publishing Editor, Historian, Journalist, Librarian, Marketing Specialist, Newscaster, Language Translator, Writer

7.  Logical –Mathematical Intelligence

People with keen logical-mathematical intelligence understand by reasoning and calculating. They think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, and ask cosmic questions. They learn through logic games, investigations, and mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence Occupations: Accountant, Auditor, Computer Analyst, Computer Programmer, Detective, Economist, Mathematician, Network analyst, Pharmacist, Physician, Physicist, Scientist, Statistician, Bookkeeper.

The Eighth Intelligence

In 1994, Gardner described and publicized the addition of the eighth intelligence, “naturalistic intelligence”.  Naturalistic intelligence was then more fully described and officially added to his original array of seven intelligences in 1999 in his book, Intelligence Reframed.

8.  Naturalist Intelligence

People with strong naturalist intelligence sense patterns in and make connections to elements in nature. They possess enhanced levels of “nature smarts” and may be very interested in human behaviors, or the behaviors, habits, or habitats of other species. They may have a strong affinity to the outside world or to specific animals.  They enjoy subjects, shows, and stories that deal with animals or natural phenomena, or they have an unusual interest in biology, zoology, botany, geology, meteorology, paleontology, or astronomy.  They are often keenly aware of their surroundings and changes in their environments.  They are able to categorize or catalog things quite easily and often like to collect, classify, or read about things from nature.

Naturalist Intelligence Occupations: Veterinarian, Anthropologist, Astronomer, Astronaut, Botanist, Biologist, Farmer, Gardener, Geologist, Meteorologist, Park Naturalist, Water Conservationist, Wetlands Ecologist, Air Quality Specialist.

Can you tell which intelligences are strongest in you?  Most people can.  What about your job?  Which intelligences are most needed for your position?  Do they align?  Next week, we will look at how employers and employees can look at a person’s key intelligences to determine the job that fits best, and to ensure they reassign tasks that don’t align.


Quote of the Week

“Organizations that have the edge and keep the edge are those that recognize the need for more intelligent workers, find them and keep them.” Howard Gardner


© 2016, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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