'Interpersonal' vs 'Intrapersonal': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 8, 2023

Do you need an explanation of the difference between 'interpersonal' vs. 'intrapersonal?'

Here is a brief overview: 

  • 'Interpersonal' is an adjective that means relating to the relationship between people. 
  • 'Intrapersonal' is an adjective that means relating to one's personal thoughts or occurring within one's mind.

While the answer above gives you a description of each term, there is much more to learn. So, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Interpersonal' vs. 'Intrapersonal?'

'Interpersonal' and 'intrapersonal' are both adjectives, and they are similar in spelling and pronunciation. However, these terms are antonyms, which means they are opposites.

The former relates to external relationships between people, while the latter relates to one's relationship with one's thoughts or internal beliefs.

  • 'Interpersonal' starts with the inter- prefix, which means shared, between, among, between, or carried on between two or more.
  • 'Intrapersonal,' on the other hand, starts with the intra- prefix, which means within or between layers.

So, the prefixes alter the meaning of the base word personal. 

As an example, many people use these terms when discussing skills relating to each. 'Interpersonal' and 'intrapersonal' skills help people manage themselves, their lives, and their fulfillment.

These are examples of 'interpersonal' skills:

  • Dependability
  • Active listening
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Conflict management
  • Negotiating
  • Gratitude

Examples of 'intrapersonal' skills include:

  • Time management
  • Budgeting
  • Self-discipline
  • Goal setting
  • Adaptability
  • Persistence
  • Positive self-talk
  • Visualization
  • Organization
  • Cleanliness
  • Self-assurance
  • Critical thinking
  • Task management

As you can see, it is important to balance 'interpersonal' vs. 'intrapersonal' growth and priorities because when people focus too much on one or the other, it causes problems.

Definition of 'Interpersonal': What Does 'Interpersonal' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of 'interpersonal' is:

  • Relating to, being, or involving relationships with others

It can also mean:

  • Relating to communication or relationships with others

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Interpersonal'

  • Communal
  • Relational
  • Shared
  • Collaborative
  • Civil
  • Mutual

'Interpersonal' Phrases

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Interpersonal relationship skills
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Interpersonal skills

Definition of 'Intrapersonal': What Does 'Intrapersonal' Mean?

The same defines 'intrapersonal' as an adjective that means:

  • Occurring in one's mind or thoughts

It can also mean:

  • Self-focused
  • Self-aware
  • Awareness of one's mind or self
  • Internal thoughts or ideas

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Intrapersonal'

  • Personal
  • Individual
  • Alone
  • Internal
  • Private
  • Cerebral
  • Subjective
  • Inner
  • Innermost
  • Reflective
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Mental

'Intrapersonal' Phrases

  • Intrapersonal reflection
  • Intrapersonal communication
  • Intrapersonal focus
  • Intrapersonal evaluation
  • Intrapersonal skills
  • Intrapersonal development

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Interpersonal' vs. 'Intrapersonal'

Whether you are learning English as a second language or a native speaker, working on your vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation will help you remember the meaning and spelling of words.

So, here is a pronunciation guide for 'interpersonal' vs. 'intrapersonal.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'interpersonal':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'intrapersonal':


Tips on When and How to Use 'Interpersonal' vs. 'Intrapersonal'

Now that you understand the difference between 'interpersonal' vs. 'intrapersonal,' here are some tips for when and how to use each term.

  • Use 'interpersonal' when discussing relationships with others or a relationship between two or more people.

As an example, I might say:

I have been very introspective recently, and sometimes, I have neglected my interpersonal relationships. 

  • Use 'interpersonal' to describe something that relates to your relationships with others.

For example, you might say:

I need to improve my interpersonal communication to have better relationships with my family and friends. 

  • Use 'intrapersonal' when discussing internal thoughts or ideas.

So, you might say:

Taking an intrapersonal focus has made me more aware of my thoughts and motivation.

  • Use 'intrapersonal' to describe a noun as relating to one's self or internal dialogue, thoughts, or motives.

For example, I might say:

I need to take more time for intrapersonal reflection because I am so busy taking care of everyone else that I do not even know what I want in life. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Interpersonal' vs. 'Intrapersonal'

Next, read these sample sentences using 'interpersonal' vs. 'intrapersonal' to ensure that you remember the difference between them and to learn how to use each in different contexts.


  • When you work on a team, it is important to develop your interpersonal skills.
  • Interpersonal communication is a vital part of creating and maintaining relationships with anyone.
  • If you struggle to maintain healthy and productive interpersonal relationships, you may want to try active listening.
  • When managers and supervisors build interpersonal relationships with their teams, employee retention and morale are higher.
  • Every year, our company goes on a retreat where the whole team works together to build an effective interpersonal skillset.
  • Putting yourself in other people's shoes is often crucial in interpersonal relationships.


  • Sometimes, I feel the need to focus on myself intrapersonally.
  • If you are unhappy with your life, pay attention to your intrapersonal dialogue.
  • An excellent way to gain awareness of the more than 60,000 intrapersonal thoughts you have each day is to engage in Gap meditation.
  • By entering into a silent gap between your thoughts, you can slow them down and become more aware of your intrapersonal messages.
  • Many of the intrapersonal thoughts we have are unconscious, repetitive, and negative or critical. So, gaining awareness of your internal dialogue can help you adjust it to build self-confidence or convince yourself that you are capable of achieving challenging goals and attaining your deepest desires.
  • Becoming aware and taking responsibility for your intrapersonal actions can help you manage depression.


  • Some people find it easier to spend time engaging in interpersonal conversation, while others are more comfortable in an intrapersonal space.
  • You can have strong intrapersonal skills but struggle to build interpersonal relationships.
  • Balancing interpersonal and interpersonal time is vital to a fulfilling life.
  • Most people seem to be more aware of their interpersonal communications than their intrapersonal dialogue.
  • Extroverts are typically more comfortable with interpersonal communications, while introverts excel at intrapersonal activities.

Review: 'Interpersonal' vs. 'Intrapersonal'

We covered a ton of information. So, here is a recap of what you learned about 'interpersonal' vs. 'intrapersonal':

  • 'Interpersonal' is an adjective that means relating to one's relationships or communication with others. 
  • 'Intrapersonal' is an adjective that means something focuses on internal feelings, emotions, thoughts, or motivations. 

Hopefully, you will remember the meaning of each of these antonyms. However, you can always return to this page if you need a reminder.

You can also learn about hundreds of other frequently mistaken, mispronounced, misspelled, and misused terms in the confusing words section here. So, if you have been wondering about the correct definition or usage of a term, check it out before you leave.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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