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Personal vs. Interpersonal: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
Personal pertains to an individual, while Interpersonal relates to interactions between individuals.

Key Differences

Personal and Interpersonal, while both involving individuals, focus on different aspects. Personal zeroes in on a single individual, their feelings, characteristics, and experiences. It's the realm of self-awareness, introspection, and individuality. For example, personal beliefs, personal items, or personal space all revolve around the singular entity – the individual.
Interpersonal, on the other hand, navigates the space between individuals. It concerns the relationships, communications, and interactions that occur when two or more people engage with each other. Interpersonal skills, for instance, refer to one's ability to communicate or interact effectively with others. Where Personal might delve into one's inner monologue, Interpersonal explores the dialogue between people.
Interestingly, the prefix "inter-" in Interpersonal provides a hint. It means "between," pointing to the relational aspect of the word. Personal might examine one's personal growth or journey, but Interpersonal would look at how an individual connects, relates, or communicates with others.
To sum it up, Personal is all about the individual – their thoughts, feelings, and possessions. Interpersonal, in contrast, shifts the focus from the individual to the space between individuals, emphasizing relationships and interactions.

Comparison Chart


Between individuals


One person
Two or more people

Prefix Meaning

"Pertaining to"

Context Usage

Describing individual experiences or possessions
Describing relationships or interactions between people

Example Situation

Reflecting on personal feelings
Building interpersonal relationships at a workplace

Personal and Interpersonal Definitions


Of or relating to a particular person; private
“Like their personal lives, women's history is fragmented, interrupted” (Elizabeth Janeway).


Of or relating to the interactions between individuals
Interpersonal skills.


Done, made, or performed in person
A personal appearance.


Existing or occurring between individuals
Interpersonal communication or conflict.


Done to or for or directed toward a particular person
A personal favor.


Between two or more people.


Concerning a particular person and that person's private business, interests, or activities; intimate
I have something personal to tell you.


Occurring among or involving several people;
Interpersonal situations in which speech occurs


Aimed pointedly at the most intimate aspects of a person, especially in a critical or hostile manner
An uncalled-for, highly personal remark.


Tending to make remarks, or be unduly questioning, about another's affairs
As the student debate got heated, it got personal.


Of or relating to the body or physical being
Personal cleanliness.


Relating to or having the nature of a person or self-conscious being
Belief in a personal God.


(Law) Of or relating to the person
Personal property as opposed to real property.
Personal jurisdiction as opposed to in rem jurisdiction.


(Grammar) Indicating grammatical person.


A personal item or notice in a newspaper.


Personals A column in a newspaper or magazine featuring personal notices.


Pertaining to persons (human beings as opposed to things or animals).


Of or pertaining to a particular person; relating to, or affecting, an individual, or each of many individuals
Her song was her personal look at the values of friendship.
Personal values
Personal desire


Dealing with subjects about which one wishes (or people usually wish) to maintain privacy or discretion; not for public view; sensitive, intimate.
You can't read my diary—it is personal.
That's a very personal question.
I can't believe you went through my drawers and looked at all my personal things!
Personal reasons


(euphemistic) Intended for sexual use.
Personal lubricant; personal massager


Pertaining to the external or bodily appearance; corporeal; bodily.
Personal charms


Done in person; without an intermediary.
A personal interview
A personal meeting
Personal settings


Relating to an individual, their character, conduct, motives, or private affairs, in an invidious and offensive manner
Personal reflections or remarks


(grammar) Denoting a person or people.
A personal pronoun


Denoting ownership.
One's personal vehicle, as opposed to a company vehicle


An advertisement by which an individual attempts to meet others with similar interests.


One's own property or asset


Pertaining to human beings as distinct from things.
Every man so termed by way of personal difference.


Of or pertaining to a particular person; relating to, or affecting, an individual, or each of many individuals; peculiar or proper to private concerns; not public or general; as, personal comfort; personal desire.
The words are conditional, - If thou doest well, - and so personal to Cain.


Pertaining to the external or bodily appearance; corporeal; as, personal charms.


Done in person; without the intervention of another.
The immediate and personal speaking of God.


Relating to an individual, his character, conduct, motives, or private affairs, in an invidious and offensive manner; as, personal reflections or remarks.


Denoting person; as, a personal pronoun.


A movable; a chattel.


A short newspaper article about a particular person or group


Concerning or affecting a particular person or his or her private life and personality;
A personal favor
For your personal use
Personal papers
I have something personal to tell you
A personal God
He has his personal bank account and she has hers


Particular to a given individual


Of or arising from personality;
Personal magnetism


Intimately concerning a person's body or physical being;
Personal hygiene


Indicating grammatical person;
Personal verb endings


Relating to an individual.
My personal opinion is that we should go ahead.


Private or confidential.
This is a personal matter; please keep it to yourself.


Referring to possessions.
I don't touch other people's personal items.


Concerning one's own life.
He took the criticism as a personal attack.


Distinctive to a particular individual.
She has her personal way of doing things.


Are personal items shared?

Typically, personal items are private to an individual, but they can choose to share them.

Can personal beliefs affect interpersonal relationships?

Absolutely, one's personal beliefs can influence how they interact with others.

Do Personal and Interpersonal mean the same thing?

No, Personal relates to an individual, while Interpersonal concerns interactions between individuals.

Is a personal diary interpersonal?

Typically, a personal diary is private, focusing on individual experiences, not interpersonal ones.

Can someone have good personal skills but poor interpersonal skills?

Yes, someone might understand themselves well (personal) but struggle in interactions with others (interpersonal).

Can you have interpersonal feelings?

Yes, they'd be feelings about or between other people, like empathy or understanding.

Is communication an interpersonal skill?

Yes, communication is a key interpersonal skill, aiding interactions between people.

Are all interpersonal interactions verbal?

No, they can be non-verbal as well, such as through body language.

How can one improve their interpersonal abilities?

Through communication training, empathy exercises, and actively building relationships.

Can personal preferences impact interpersonal dynamics?

Yes, individual likes and dislikes can influence group interactions.

Is teamwork an interpersonal activity?

Absolutely, teamwork involves communication and collaboration between individuals.

Is personal growth related to interpersonal skills?

They can be linked. Personal growth can enhance one's interpersonal abilities and vice versa.

Can personal experiences shape interpersonal understanding?

Yes, personal experiences can influence how one relates to or understands others.

Can you have personal space in an interpersonal setting?

Yes, even in group settings, individuals might need personal space or boundaries.

Can personal achievements boost interpersonal relations?

Yes, personal success can positively affect one's interactions and relationships with others.

Is self-reflection a personal or interpersonal activity?

It's personal, as it involves looking inwardly at one's own thoughts and feelings.

Are all relationships interpersonal?

At their core, yes. Relationships involve interactions and connections between individuals.

What's more critical, personal values or interpersonal harmony?

Both are important, and they often influence one another.

Is personal identity separate from interpersonal identity?

They're related but distinct. Personal identity is about self-perception, while interpersonal identity concerns how one fits within a group or relationship.

Do interpersonal conflicts always stem from personal issues?

Not always, but personal issues can be a factor in interpersonal conflicts.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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