How can you tell if someone is intelligent?
When I was young, I believed that smart people always wore glasses, got top marks on their tests, and loved reading. I know, it was a pretty stereotypical view of intelligence and way off the mark.
Truth is: being intelligent goes way beyond your grades at school and how many books you read. But how can you tell if you’re dealing with a highly intelligent person?
I’ve been lucky to meet and work with a lot of very smart people. This has helped me to recognize the tell-tale signs of intelligence.
Today, I’m sharing 7 of those signs. Maybe you see some of these signs in yourself or someone else in your life.
One thing’s for sure, if you recognize these signs, you’re dealing with a highly intelligent person.
Let’s jump in.
1) They’re witty with a good sense of humor
One of the tell-tale signs of highly intelligent people is their quick wit and humor. This sign is often overlooked as it goes against the nerdy, boring stereotype that can be associated with intelligence.
Comedian and actor, Ricky Gervais is a prime example of someone who uses his quick wit and humor to showcase his intelligence. Gervais, best known for co-creating and starring in “The Office” is renowned for his often controversial comedy about real-world issues.
There are lots of examples of Gervais using humor to show his intelligence but one of my favorites is this simple one-liner:
“Remember, when you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It is only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid.”
Next time you notice someone cracking clever jokes, remember to look beyond the joke and recognize that you’re probably dealing with a highly intelligent individual.
2) They listen more than they speak
Greek Philosopher, Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Have you ever noticed that highly intelligent people seem to live by this quote as they listen more than they speak?
Richard Branson, credits listening as one of the reasons for his success;
“Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people on the front line”.
If you’ve got someone in your life who tends to listen more than they speak, it’s a sure sign you’re dealing with a highly intelligent person.
3) They enjoy alone time
I’ve always found socializing to be quite draining. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time with friends and family but when it’s time to go home, I’m looking forward to some “me” time to recharge.
Does this resonate with you?
Turns out, intelligent people tend to enjoy alone time so this could be a sign that you’re one of the clever ones.
The Savanna Theory of happiness explores the link between intelligence and happiness amongst other things. One of the key findings is “that smart people feel happier alone than when others, even good friends, are around.” as noted by the World Economic Forum.
Founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is not only renowned for his remarkable intellect but he’s also known for valuing his alone time.
Gates takes two trips per year to a remote cabin, alone for a week each time. He spends the time reading and thinking. It gives him a chance to escape day-to-day duties and focus on strategic thinking.
He uses his alone time to feed his curiosity, which brings us to our next sign.
4) They’re genuinely curious
My four-year-old nephew, Michael, loves to ask questions. His favourite question is “Why?” Sometimes it seems impossible to answer him because he follows every answer up with another “Why?”
Most children ask a lot of questions, just like Michael, but soon they grow out of it.
However, there are a few people, who never grow out of asking questions. They stay genuinely curious for their entire lives.
They have an appetite for information and learning that can never be satisfied. This means that curious people are constantly acquiring new knowledge and improving their understanding.
As a result: it makes sense that genuinely curious people are often also highly intelligent.
5) They’re good communicators
My friend Chris is one of the best communicators I know. He’s able to articulate himself very well. It seems like with almost no effort at all, he’s able to get his point across in clear and simple language.
Do you know anyone like this?
Being a good communicator is not about using big fancy words to sound smart. It’s more than vocabulary. It’s about being able to choose the right words and tone, at the right moment. This means what you’re saying is clear and easily understood by everyone around you.
Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
You know you’re dealing with a bright individual if you notice they’re able to take something complex and communicate it in a way that’s clear, simple and easily understood by all.
6) They suffer from anxiety
Another sign of intelligence that is often overlooked is that intelligent people suffer from anxiety. Of course, anxiety is something everyone can experience from time to time.
However, “researchers have found that your intelligence might play a role in how — or how often — you experience anxiety” as outlined by PsychCentral.
As suggested, this could be because they’re very aware of their surroundings and potential threats. Or perhaps their overthinking leads them to feel overwhelmed.
Whatever the reason: anxiety could actually be a sign that you’re dealing with a highly intelligent person.
7) They’re not afraid to challenge the norm
Have you ever heard of “Spanx”, an American undergarment company who are known for their shapewear and hosiery?
Spanx was founded in 1998 by Sara Blakely, a 27-year-old, who was selling fax machines door-to-door. Although not your typical entrepreneur, Blakely had something in common with other successful business people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
She wasn’t afraid to challenge the norm.
Sara had no prior experience in business or fashion but this didn’t stop her. She experienced the discomfort of traditional undergarments firsthand and decided to challenge the norm instead of accepting it.
This led to the creation of Spanx, which is worth over a billion dollars today.
Do you know anyone who challenges the norm? It could be someone at work who doesn’t follow conventional methods. Or maybe you’ve got a friend who always comes up with smarter ways of doing things.
Highly intelligent people don’t feel restricted to doing things in the normal or conventional way. Instead, they challenge it and figure out a better way to go about it.
There you have it: 7 signs that suggest you’re dealing with a highly intelligent person.
One thing’s for sure, intelligence goes way beyond what someone wears, how well they perform at school or what hobbies they keep.
How many of these signs do you recognize in yourself?
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