Every Wednesday, I’ll post about multiple intelligences so we can better understand children and why they do what they do.

All adults and children have the capacity to develop each of the eight smarts. Some will be stronger than others. Some may remain weak. But, we can and should use them in combinations so even weak intelligences don’t have to hold us back.

One of the most interesting combinations occurs when someone has both people-smart and self-smart strengths. As I wrote in last Wednesday’s post, life can be challenging for these people and apparent inconsistencies can confuse people.

Those who have people-smart strengths think best with other people. Confidence in their ideas grows when they verbalize them and experience people’s reactions. They enjoy brainstorming and often contribute greatly. They can also read body language very well, discern people’s moods, and respond appropriately. Their joy is in telling others what they know.

Self-smart strengths cause people to think deeply inside of themselves. They can appear to be slow learners, but they’re just reflecting and considering how each idea makes them feel. They don’t brainstorm well because they tend to highly value their own ideas and they keep their ideas to themselves. They don’t like to think quickly. Also, because they need quiet, peace, privacy, and space, groups and brainstorming activities can be stressful. Their joy is in knowing what they know.

When someone has both of these smarts in their top four, they can be internally conflicted. They want to share. They don’t want to share. One day they’re good at quick thinking. One day they’re not. When their people-smart strengths are most active, they read people well. When they’re not, they can be awkward in group settings. They can become frustrated with themselves and they can frustrate and confuse others. They can be accused of being moody, inconsistent, and hard to read.

Even though this combination can be challenging, it is valuable. Self-smart people typically know what they know. They have a depth of understanding that will help others. When they are also people smart, they know how to express themselves to persuade or help others. They can discern when it’s best to speak up. They’ll have more influence because of this combination.

As recently as Tuesday, when teaching moms about multiple intelligences, a mom was in tears as she excitedly expressed her gratitude for this new understanding about herself. Another mom told me how helpful this would be in her marriage. Others were sure it explained why their children are sometimes outgoing and eager to interact and then needing quiet a short time later. They now know that there’s not necessarily anything wrong or something that made them mad. Exciting!

In addition to yourself, who do you know who would benefit from knowing we can be both people smart and self smart? Please pass this on. They’ll be glad you did.