Intelligent people know better than to be careless with their words.
There are just some things that—when you say them—make you look a little close-minded, condescending, or just plain stupid.
If you want to appear more intelligent, here are some words and phrases that should never ever come out of your mouth.
Intelligent people don’t generally like to make a big deal out of their intelligence. That’s why they’ll avoid saying things like “well duh!” or “no shit, Sherlock!”
They find it tacky, condescending, and even a little bit close-minded. It’s like saying “You’re stupid—isn’t it obvious?”
Intelligent people prefer to be polite and respectful towards others, even during arguments about “dumb” or “pointless” topics.
They know better than to shame others for their ignorance. It’s nobody’s fault if they simply don’t know, and they’d rather INFORM than belittle those who are ignorant.
2) “This is how it’s always been done.”
Intelligent people know better than to assume that just because something has always been true, that it’s true forever.
Or that if something has always been done a certain way or because people have always believed something to be true, it doesn’t mean it’s right.
Things get proven wrong all the time, after all!
And sometimes, what was once thought correct or acceptable no longer is. So they keep an open mind and adapt.
For that reason, smart people will never try to appeal to tradition—to say “we’ve always done it this way!” or “If this were wrong, people would no longer believe it!”
Instead, they would try to prove that something is right or wrong based on its own merits.
As far as intelligent people are concerned, throwing one’s hands in the air and going “whatever!” is pretty much an admission of defeat.
It tells people that they’ve lost and have nothing else to say, but are too immature to take it gracefully… so they pretend they’re indifferent or uninterested in whatever people are talking about.
Intelligent people will instead just try to engage in a conversation normally and accept it when they’ve lost.
They’ll say “You’re right”, or “you got a point there!” and move on.
“Whatever!” is a sign of impatience and immaturity….and even though there are many intelligent people who are impatient and immature, they probably won’t say “Whatever” because it’s just not a word they find very intelligent.
4) “I’ve never been wrong.”
If you ever hear someone say that they’ve never been wrong, you can be sure that they’re wrong.
All of us make mistakes. Being ignorant, making errors, and messing up are just a natural part of being human.
Intelligent people know this, and for that reason they know better than to insist they’ve never been wrong. If anything, they might even be the first to admit that they’ve been wrong many times before.
And for this reason, when an intelligent person ever comes across someone who says they’ve never been wrong (or that they’ll never be), the intelligent person will doubt them in an instant.
To them, that’s a sign that this person is guaranteed to make a lot of very grave errors.
5) “What a loser!”
Intelligent people aren’t as judgemental as most people like to believe they are. They might be observant and perceptive, sure, but never judgemental.
The very fact that they’re knowledgeable is why they know better than to judge.
If they see someone fidgeting and mumbling incoherent words, for example, a smart person would not even think “Sheesh, what a loser.”
Instead, they’d wonder if that person is nervous, has ADHD, or is drunk—and none of these warrant calling people “losers”.
6) “Don’t you know who I am?!”
It doesn’t matter if they’ve won a Nobel Prize or got featured on TV. Intelligent people will avoid puffing up their chest and saying, “Don’t you know who I am?!”
They see it for what it is—insecurity laid bare. And they’d rather get bitten by fire ants than utter those words.
People who are confident in themselves and whatever fame they might have will simply let their reputation speak for itself.
People who are actually famous enough to say that don’t need to. Others will simply recognize them. The ones who feel the need to say it are those who are insecure about their own relevance.
But perhaps the ultimate reason why intelligent people don’t say it is that they know that once you zoom all the way out and look at the big picture, all human beings are equally insignificant.
7) “Just believe me.”
Intelligent people don’t trust people blindly. They will doubt and verify the things they are told, especially if they’re taught as fact.
The more they’re not “meant” to question something—like, say, religion—the more they will question it.
This is why they also expect the same out of the people around them. They won’t insist that people simply believe them. Instead, they will insist that people find out for themselves.
Smart people are skeptics. They will believe something only once they’ve got proof that it is actually real or worth believing.
So if someone insists “believe me!” and gets offended when you question them, then they most certainly are not a genuinely intelligent person.
8) “Shut up!”
As mentioned before, intelligent people enjoy engaging in conversations and debates… even if the topic is as random as “do ants fall in love?”
And no matter how heated the discussion might become, they will do their damndest to resist resorting to crass remarks like “shut up!”
There are times when it’s inevitable, of course—like when the other person is clearly just trying to annoy them—but when there’s a legitimate argument to be had and the issue is simply that they can’t ever see eye to eye, they will never try to shut down the conversation.
If anything, being challenged with dissenting opinions will only get them more engaged and eager to hear the other person’s point of view.
9) “That’s impossible!”
Intelligent people are skeptics. People assume that because of this, they’d be quick to insist “no, that’s impossible!” when faced with something they don’t understand…but that’s usually far from the case!
This is because people misunderstand skeptics. The truth is that skeptics will neither accept that something is true or false unless proven otherwise.
So they might not accept that something is correct “just ‘cause”, but they also aren’t going to say that something is impossible, unless there’s proof that it is indeed impossible.
They know that there’s a possibility that what might seem like a guaranteed failure might yet succeed if done right, no matter how bleak the chances. And they’d rather not burst other people’s bubbles because they could be right, after all.
10) “Stop attacking me!”
Intelligent people aren’t going to accuse people of attacking them unless they get comments that are undeniably personal attacks like “you’re ugly” or “this is why you’re broke!”
They aren’t going to say that someone is attacking them simply because they said something contradicting a statement that they made.
If they love Hitchcock movies and they catch you saying “I hate Hitchcock! His movies are trash and he’s a sexist asshole!”, an intelligent person wouldn’t be offended—not at all!
They’ll just accept that you simply have different tastes and a different perspective on things. They might even ask you to elaborate about his sexism, but otherwise leave you be.
Intelligent people are not a monolith, and you’ll inevitably find a few here and there who would have inflated egos or are full of insecurities.
But there’s a reason why most intelligent people end up being the kind of people who will avoid all the things said here eventually.
Even if they didn’t know better in the past, they will eventually learn and get better, taming their ego and keeping themselves grounded.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.