You might think that looking stupid in public is reserved for the, well, stupid people.
The truth is that we’ve all fell on our faces, so to speak, in one form or another in our lives, and it’s likely that these public acts of stupidity will occur again. After all, we are only human.
There are some things we can do to avoid looking less intelligent than we really are, but despite knowing these things, we do them on a regular basis anyway.
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling a little embarrassed, or even stupid, because of your actions, take note: these 6 habits make people seem less intelligent.
That means that avoiding them can make you seem smarter, or at least, not stupid.
1) Dressing Down Even if You Know Better
Even when we know the expected attire for an event is business casual, we like to translate that into “t-shirt and jeans.”
This is especially true in the startup business world where young and hip business owners think they don’t need to put on a suit and tie, or even a clean shirt, to go to work.
While that may be true in their own businesses, when people step outside their doors, they should be prepared to dress up, or at least, put on clean clothes.
If you want to look less intelligent, show up to an event wearing a pair of jeans. Everyone else will be wearing business casual or better.
To avoid feeling silly about your attire, always check to see what the dress code is, and then follow it. Don’t overdress either.
While it is nice to show up wearing a cocktail dress or tailored suit to a business event, it’s hardly appropriate when everyone else is wearing company-branded hoodies.
Following the dress code is the best way to avoid looking less intelligent.
2) Poor Posture
If you want people to take you seriously, you need to take yourself seriously. This means that you need to present yourself seriously.
So show people you are serious by adopting a posture that says you are professional and approachable.
In other words, don’t slouch.
Sure, it is fine if you are working in your basement or lazing on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, but if you are doing work, sit up straight. Even if you work at home, getting dressed and sitting at your desk makes all the difference in your approach to work, and how you see yourself in your life.
So sit up straight. Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor and don’t hunch over your computer.
If you are in a meeting, be sure to keep your hands in front of you so that you don’t cross your arms: this makes you look closed off and unapproachable to those around you.
3) Nodding Your Head
Did you know that nodding your head can be seen as a sign that you aren’t actually listening?
Women are especially bad for tilting their heads to one side and nodding. It makes them, as well as men, look less intelligent.
It’s as if they are trying to comprehend what is being said to them and the body language does not translate well.
Top-level executives find this to be submissive behavior and they expect their best and brightest people to be assertive.
4) Using the Wrong Words
If you aren’t sure of a word’s meaning or the proper way to say it, learn it, or leave it out of your vocabulary.
Nothing makes you look less intelligent than using a word in the improper way. Using slang in a business setting also makes you look stupid, especially if people are from out of town and don’t understand the slang you are using.
To avoid making yourself look less intelligent than you really are, use the words you know for sure and expand your vocabulary on purpose to build your credibility and communication skills.
5) Undermining Your Own Opinions
If you want to look less intelligent than everyone around you, add a qualifier to every sentence you say.
Most people love to express their opinions, but those of us that are a little timid or have had a bad experience doing so usually add extra bits to their opinions or sentences, and it makes them appear less intelligent.
For example, you might say something like this, “I am not sure if this is right, but I think we should…” Even before you express your opinion, you’ve undermined it yourself.
This undercuts your position and causes people to ignore or neglect your opinion. Say it loud and say it proud to avoid putting yourself in this awkward position.
6) Being Too Judgemental
Jumping to conclusions is a sure sign of an unintelligent person. If you are someone who is hard and fast in their ways and beliefs, then you are not someone who is open to suggestion or learning new things.
People who are closed off are thought to be less intelligent than those who are opened to hearing the opinions of others.