How can you tell if someone is a really deep thinker?
Sure, you can watch them day and night and see if they strike a pose like Rodin’s sculpture.
Or maybe you can stick them in an MRI machine and explore the brain centers that activate when you ask them about the nature of life, the universe, and everything.
Maybe it would be easier to just ask them?
Well, there are actually some clues to look for.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of ten non-obvious signs that someone is a deep thinker.
They might help you find out more about someone you know or even realize you’re a lot deeper than you think!
1) They’re slow to answer questions
I had this professor in college who was unique.
He had dark, penetrating eyes, and when anyone asked him a question, he’d fix them with his gaze and seemingly stare into their soul for hours.
In reality, it was probably just a minute or two, but even that’s an eternity in a conversation.
It was awkward and difficult to deal with for us students, but his answers were always well thought-out and full of detail.
It’s like he had this wealth of knowledge deep in the basement of his mind, and to get to it, he had to climb down long flights of mental stairs.
This was a sign that he was a very deep thinker rather than showing that he was aggressive or just weird!
2) They don’t engage with superficiality
People who live in a deep realm of thought have little interest in the shallows.
Although this makes perfect sense, it might not be so obvious that things like pop culture or fashion don’t interest most deep thinkers.
They’re just too busy rolling in the depths of meaning and interpretation to see any real difference between a Vera Wang and a Marc Jacobs.
It doesn’t matter to them whether it was Jay-Z or Kanye West who wrote Otis (ha, it was actually both!).
While others focus on them, they don’t see these details as particularly significant and prefer to spend their time delving into deeper issues and thoughts.
3) They’ve got unique ideas
When you get to spend time with someone who is full of unusual perspectives and unique thoughts, you have to wonder where it all comes from.
Anyone can read a few ideas on the internet and regurgitate them in a conversation.
But it takes something else to analyze, synthesize, and build upon the ideas you take in to produce something new and interesting.
It takes time and deep thinking, and this is something that most people miss.
In general, when we hear ideas that sound way out there, we dismiss them as weird and wild fantasies.
Maybe we should pay attention.
After all, it’s the unique and unusual ideas that end up changing the world.
4) They’re intensely creative
With all that information stewing and swirling around in their minds, deep thinkers are able to combine elements that no one else ever has.
This can often lead them to be extremely creative people, though it might not seem so obvious at first.
A lot of creativity stems from passion and emotion. These elements can inspire visual art and dance and infuse them with depths of feeling.
But other creativity comes from deep thought and analysis. Deep thinkers roll things around in their minds, looking for new connections and combinations, and often find them.
They might not always express them as art, but don’t forget that writing code or engineering a bridge can be just as creative.
5) They’re very observant
Many deep thinkers see things that most of us just don’t.
I once knew a furniture mover who I’d describe as a genius despite not having had the chance to even graduate from high school.
He could look at any piece of furniture or any appliance and rotate it in his mind.
He knew almost instantly whether or not it would fit through the door or have to be dismantled. If it would fit, he knew the exact way to carry it through the entire path of doorways, hallways, twist, and turns out to the moving van.
Honestly, it was like an admittedly quite mild superpower!
He was just so observant and had a great memory, and he used these to perfection in his job.
Other deep thinkers can observe connections, patterns, and details that almost everyone else would easily miss.
6) They’re unbiased
The connection between lack of bias and deep thinking might be non-obvious.
However, if we think deeply about it (ha!), it will probably become clear why these two elements are intimately connected.
A bias is almost like a filter that stops you from seeing everything when you think about a problem or an issue.
If you’re part of the pineapple-on-pizza haters, for example, you might be biased against all fruit on pizza. That bias would likely make you think that all fruit on pizza is an abomination, and you’d refuse to even consider any fruit-based pizza toppings ever on your pies.
However, deep thinkers reject these biases.
I’m not saying they like pineapple; I’m just saying that they wouldn’t become anti-fruit just because they didn’t like it on their pizza.
This rejection of bias also makes deep thinkers into very fair judges.
(BTW, tomatoes and green peppers have seeds in them, so they’re both fruits!)
7) They’re introverted but not necessarily a loner
That deep thinkers are usually introverted is probably obvious to most of us.
People who can go deep into their own minds and spend lots of time in there considering and mulling things over probably spend a great deal of time on their own.
However, what’s not obvious is that this tendency doesn’t necessarily make them into loners.
Introverts recharge by being alone, while extroverts recharge by being with other people.
But when deep thinkers want to discuss deep, interesting ideas, they often seek out other people.
They’re probably not going to be hyper-social, but many deep thinkers enjoy meeting others and discussing ideas as much as anyone else does.
8) They love to read
Why should reading have anything to do with being a deep thinker?
We all read things every day, on our phones, on TV, and just about everywhere else, right?
I think maybe we’re talking about different kinds of reading here.
Deep thinkers are able to dive deep into books, whether they’re fictional or not, and spend hours engrossed by them.
While we’re flipping through TikToks and YouTube videos continuously, they can focus on books and travel them through their interior worlds.
They find a wealth of information in books that’s delivered to them as slowly or as fast as they want, so they’re able to comfortably stop and digest any ideas they come across.
9) They’re not impulsive
I guess it’s probably somewhat obvious that someone who is a deeper thinker is very likely not to be impulsive.
Because deep thinking and impulse are basically opposites.
Deep thinkers consider what they will do before they do it. They look before they leap.
They’re slow to act, and this can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you see it.
Impulsivity can, after all, be exciting and a whole lot of fun. It can also lead to danger and injury, though.
Deep thinkers may not act quickly enough for some situations, however, as they can get bogged down in the details and miss the fact that the clock is ticking.
10) They enjoy debate
I don’t know about you, but when I think about people who like to debate and argue, I think about my ex’s grandpa.
OK, I’m sure you don’t think about the same guy, but you might after this.
He was a man who loved to argue more than anything else in life, or so it seemed. But his arguments were almost always nonsensical.
He loved to get worked up and contradict anyone on anything at all, even if it made no sense. He was driven by a hot-blooded passion rather than reason.
Since I met him, I always thought that people who liked to argue were excitable and arrogant.
But it turns out I was wrong.
Sure, many people are that way, but there are also a great many deep thinkers who enjoy argument and debate.
They’re just more reasonable about it.
I think the appeal is in having their ideas challenged and tested and in the opportunity to be exposed to new ideas they hadn’t yet considered themselves.
These 10 non-obvious signs that someone is a deep thinker can help you pick these people out of a crowd.
They might even show you some reflection of yourself.
And even though they’re often subtle, these signs can show you an indication of who just might be one of the brightest minds of our time.