6. Apply Multiple Intelligences

Now you are ready to begin using the brain’s array of eight intelligences to help you answer the strategic question you have created. These intelligences tap different capacities of the brain, some of which we prefer and others we have let lie fallow. By using the ones we prefer and also the ones we do not, we not only make maximum use of our current capacities but also expand them through the growth, literally, of new neural pathways. We can facilitate the transformation of our relationships by practicing these different intelligences in action, combining them in unique ways to foster insight and trust-based action. On the insight side, this article helps explain how exercises such as those listed below can help stimulate new solutions to old puzzles.
The eight intelligences are:

Verbal linguistic
Logical mathematical
Bodily kinesthetic
Visual spatial

These intelligences were first articulated in work by Harvard professor Howard Gardner. Gardner broke apart the traditional concept of a single general "intelligence" into these multiple subsets that create an infinite number of individual combinations, some preferred and used more frequently, others less so. His theories are not universally accepted, but have wide appeal, especially among educators.

The benefit of using the eight intelligences theory in the context of answering your strategic question is that it offers a diverse, customized approach to reaching a single goal, with each intelligence potentially offering complementary insights and solutions. Used in combination with one another, they have the potential for intellectual, emotional and kinesthetic synergy that can break through old patterns of thinking and behaving, waking up possibilities for action that seem limited when only one or two intelligences are applied. This is particularly important, given the general dominance (and frequent overuse) of the expertise-oriented, analytic mind-set (logical mathematical intelligence) that defines much of modern business culture.

Do you know what your preferences are? Stop now, download and take a quick survey developed by Ellen Weber that can help you identify them. Then return to continue this step.


It is likely trust will be built most easily by those who share the same set of preferences. If I see the world through the lens of story-telling for example, being able to share my story and being appreciated for it, is likely to build trust with me. If I prefer to see the world through the lens of physical action, being able to play basketball with you may naturally help create a trusting relationship. While this rule does not apply universally, it can help us think about the best ways to facilitate a connection between people. Imagine saying to a person who loves stories, “I want to change the story of our relationship.” Imagine saying to someone from whom basketball defines life, “we need to be on the same team.” Imagine the conversation of the story tellers happening over a cup of coffee in the context of discussing a movie together, one they both enjoyed. Imagine the conversation between the basketball players actually taking place on the court. The point is that trust is grounded in different things depending on our preference for different intelligences.

But we cannot always know others’ preferences, and even if we do, we may find a mismatch with our own. Moreover, trying to find ways to match and intersect can be more manipulative than productive. Consequently, the most practical way to build trust is always from our own “center,” our own “heart.” It emerges from faith in our own best starting point, then bridging out to bend, adjust, and add to our approach. In fact, you may find that by accessing intelligences that you do not prefer you are able to gain new and unexpected insights, creating the pathways for change in yourself as well as your relationship with others, not least of which is ___________.

So how does this work exactly?

At the bottom of this page you'll find links to eight separate webpages, each describing exercises you can do to answer your strategic question. You can start by reading those connected with your preferred intelligences. Then go on to read some or all of the exercises for your least preferred intelligences. Notice that each of the intelligence exercises appears to have five parts, numbered 1 through 5. Read through all of these parts, but pay special attention to the one that corresponds to the trust-building principle you selected at Step 5. The parts are numbered according to the Principles they reflect. See the first exercise, "Verbal Linguistic," for a page that calls out how the principles relate to specific parts of the exercise -- the order is the same for all the intelligence exercises. (If you created your own trust principles, simply notice how they may be related to different parts of the exercises -- then tackle the exercise as a whole).

An example. Suppose you want to explore the strategic question, How can my inner strength and courage transform my 'openness to feedback' into the full recovery of our relationship? Now, suppose you just learned from the Multiple Intelligences Survey that Verbal Linguistic intelligence is your greatest preference. Go to the webpage for that intelligence and read the description of the intelligence and each of the five parts of the listed exercise. Part 1 of the exercise reflects Principle 1, Draw on Inner Strength. That principle is always listed as #1 for each of the different intelligence exercises. (Similarly, Principle 2, Step Away from Personal Gains and Losses always is always related to Part 2 of each intelligence exercise).

Use your Verbal Linguistic intelligence to begin answering your strategic question, emphasizing Part 1; in this case using a faerie tale to find how how you can use your inner strength to help you stay open to feedback. For instance, you find yourself including in your story a visit to an oracle asking for advice. What suddenly comes to mind as a message from the oracle -- and one you write into your tale -- is "Help turn the stones." Later, as you consider what that means you decide that a key strategy will be making sure that you slow down enough in your conversation with _____________, asking questions to make sure you "turn over every stone, and leave nothing unsaid." As you think about this further you can see that this has been an unconscious concern for you -- that you might ask for feedback but not get it all from ______________. You reflect on some key questions about incidents in the past that you might use in your conversation with him to ensure everything is on the table. Additionally, you find yourself reflecting on how the relationship got into trouble in the first place -- you additionally decide to suggest a future ground rule with ___________________ that "we both make a habit of stopping to respectfully say the unsaid things" so the relationship can continue to improve over time.

No exercise is sacred

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It is the particular intelligence that counts and there are many ways to access each one. For example, there are many other opportunities to use verbal linguistic intelligence to answer your strategic question. Another method is called, “free writing.” Focus on your strategic question and then put your pen on paper and write – write anything – and keep writing for a solid ten minutes without stopping. Don’t take your pen off the page or your hands off the keys. If you get stuck make hashmarks until your mind unblocks and new thoughts and associations come to mind. After writing in this way for ten minutes, go back and circle the key words and phrases that come closest to answering your question.

Once you’ve worked the strategic question with one intelligence, try on others. The real power of the exercises is likely to be in coming at the question from several preferences – and also – maybe even especially – from the intelligences you do not prefer and don't feel skilled in. The goal is not to create some kind of "masterpiece;" it is to slow down enough to let your wisdom in by letting the intelligences interact with each other. If a weak preference is Logical Mathematical, for example, stay focused on the same strategic question (in this case, how to ask for feedback and recover the relationship by drawing on inner strength) and work the whole exercise for that preference. Then look back in particular to your answer for #1. For Logical Mathematical Part I is about the logical benefits of improving the relationship. What do you find on this list that might help give you a confident way to ask for feedback and more, ask to renew the relationship overall? And how can you use what you find here to complement what you heard from the oracle in your faerie tale? The more intelligences you tap with your strategic questions, the more you are using your whole brain to address the challenges, relieve your stress, and design a great conversation.

Here are the links to the intelligences exercises:

Verbal Linguistic
Logical Mathematical
Bodily Kinesthetic
Visual Spatial