11 non-obvious signs that someone is highly intelligent

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

We all have our own picture of what a smart person looks like.

Maybe they wear glasses, always have their nose in a book, or can solve math problems in a flash.

Sure, these things might mean someone’s smart, but they’re not the only signs.

Being smart isn’t just about getting top grades or knowing lots of stuff. It’s more than that and sometimes, it’s not so easy to spot.

In this article, we’re going to look at the less-known signs that someone’s really smart. We’ll talk about the surprising things that super-smart people do and how they act differently.

So, if you’re keen to find out more or you’re wondering if you or one of your mates might be secretly brainy, stick around to learn about these 11 hidden clues of being super smart.

1. They’re Curious

One of the not-so-obvious signs someone is really smart is their endless curiosity.

Smart people are always asking questions.

They don’t just accept things as they are; they want to know why things work the way they do.

And it’s not just about big, world-changing stuff.

They’re just as curious about why the sky is blue or why cats purr.

Their brain is like a sponge, always ready to soak up new knowledge.

So, if you’ve got a mate who’s always asking questions and digging for more information, they might be sharper than you think!

2. They’re Good Listeners

You might think a super smart person is always the one talking, sharing their knowledge and ideas, right?

Well, not necessarily.

Actually, really smart people often spend more time listening than talking.

They know that everyone they meet knows something they don’t, so they listen carefully to learn from others.

It’s not just about being polite; they’re genuinely interested in what others have to say.

They believe that every conversation is an opportunity to learn something new.

So, if you notice someone who’s always ready to lend an ear and pay attention to what others are saying, don’t underestimate them – they might be one of the smart cookies in the room!

3. They’re Open-Minded

I’ll never forget my college friend, Jake.

Jake was the kind of guy who was always open to new ideas.

He wasn’t just smart in the sense of getting good grades; he had this awesome ability to see things from different perspectives.

Even when we were deep in a heated debate, Jake never dismissed other people’s points of view.

Instead, he took the time to understand where they were coming from and even if he didn’t agree, he’d say something like, “That’s an interesting way to look at it; I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

This open-mindedness is a trademark of highly intelligent people.

They don’t just stick to their own beliefs; they’re always ready to consider and understand others’ viewpoints.

So, if you know someone who’s always up for a good debate and respects different opinions, chances are they’re pretty smart!

4. They’re Adaptable

Did you know that Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”?

Highly intelligent people are often very adaptable.

They can quickly assess a situation, understand the variables, and then adjust their approach as needed.

It’s not just about survival though; being adaptable means they’re also good at problem-solving.

They can think on their feet and come up with solutions that others might not see.

So, if you’ve ever seen someone smoothly handle a sudden change of plans or a tricky situation, you might just be witnessing a sign of high intelligence.

5. They Value Alone Time

Have you ever noticed how some people are perfectly content spending time alone? This might be a sign of high intelligence.

Those with sharp brains often enjoy their own company because it gives them time to think, reflect, and delve into their interests.

They see it as an opportunity to recharge and explore their inner world.

Intelligence can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword – it allows you to understand the world in complex ways, but it can also make you feel different or misunderstood.

Because of this, intelligent people often find comfort and peace in solitude.

They don’t see alone time as lonely; they see it as a precious opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.

So, if you know someone who cherishes their alone time, they might just be one of those hidden geniuses we’re talking about!

6. They’re Night Owls

This one hits close to home for me. I’ve always been a night owl, preferring the quiet hours when the world is asleep to think, read or work on my projects.

It turns out, many studies suggest that night owls tend to be more intelligent.

Researchers believe that staying up late might be a sign of a more developed intellect as our ancestors would have had to use their brains to override their natural day-night cycle.

It’s during these quiet hours that night owls often do their best thinking, free from distractions and interruptions.

So if you, like me, find the quiet of the night invigorating rather than draining, it might just be your intelligent mind craving its prime time to shine!

7. They’re Self-Critical

Here’s the raw truth: really smart people can be their own worst critics.

They have high standards for themselves and they’re not afraid to question their own actions and thoughts.

It’s not that they’re constantly beating themselves up – it’s more about being aware of their abilities and always striving to do better.

Being self-critical isn’t always easy.

It means admitting when you’re wrong and being willing to learn from your mistakes.

But that’s exactly why it’s a sign of high intelligence.

Smart people know they’re not perfect, and they see every mistake as a chance to learn and grow.

So if you come across someone who’s not afraid to critique themselves, don’t mistake it for low self-esteem.

They might just be a lot smarter than they’re letting on!

8. They Enjoy Challenges

Did you know that Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”? Highly intelligent people thrive on challenges.

They see them not as obstacles, but as opportunities to learn and grow.

This is because solving complex problems or overcoming hurdles stimulates their brain, giving them a sense of achievement.

In fact, studies have found that intelligent people often seek out difficult tasks because they enjoy the challenge.

They’re not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and face failure, because they know that’s how they learn best.

So, if you notice someone who’s always up for a challenge, even when things get tough, you might be looking at a hidden genius right there!

9. They Can Connect Unrelated Concepts

My brother has this uncanny ability to draw connections between things that, at first glance, seem completely unrelated.

He’ll be talking about a historical event one minute, and the next, he’s linking it to a modern technological innovation or a social issue.

This ability to connect unrelated concepts is a sign of high intelligence.

It’s like their brain is constantly creating a mind map, with different pieces of information linking and branching out to form new thoughts and ideas.

This isn’t something that everyone can do; it requires creative thinking and a broad understanding of various subjects.

So, if you know someone who often surprises you with their unique perspectives or unexpected connections, they just might be one of those secret geniuses we’re talking about!

10. They’re Avid Readers

Let’s be brutally honest here – not everyone loves to read.

But those who do, especially those who have a wide range of reading interests, are often highly intelligent.

Reading is like food for their brains – it helps them learn new things, understand different perspectives, and stimulates their imagination.

They’re not just reading for the sake of reading. They’re on a constant quest for knowledge and understanding.

11. They Embrace Change

Change can be scary. It’s uncertain and unpredictable, and let’s be real – most of us like our comfort zones.

But highly intelligent people? They embrace change. They see it as an opportunity for growth and learning. They’re not afraid to shake things up and try something new, even if it scares them.

This ability to adapt and embrace change, rather than resist it, is a true sign of intelligence.

So there you have it – the non-obvious signs of high intelligence. It’s not just about having a high IQ or acing every test.

Real intelligence is about curiosity, open-mindedness, adaptability, and a never-ending desire to learn and grow.

And these signs are often hidden in plain sight – you just have to know what to look for.

Related articles:

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

8 signs you’ve fallen in love with someone who is completely wrong for you

12 signs you’re in a relationship with the wrong person, even if you love them