9 phrases only highly intelligent people use, according to psychology

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Being intelligent has much more to do with how someone navigates life than book-smarts. 

If you have a good memory, it’s relatively easy to read up about a bunch of stuff and have knowledge. 

But if you don’t know how to apply it or interact with people and ideas in a way that leads to great outcomes, how smart are you really?

That’s where highly intelligent people check the boxes. 

They’re not only book smart, but they move forward in life because they know how to turn knowledge into actions. 

And it’s pretty easy to spot them if you carefully listen to what they say. 

Highly intelligent people typically use these – or similar – phrases: 

1) “Let’s look at everyone’s ideas.”

Highly intelligent people know how important it is to make everyone feel like they’re part of the team. 

The best ideas also usually come from bouncing thoughts off each other, mixing them up, and seeing what sticks. 

That’s why they’ll always try to involve everyone and at least listen to what they’re saying. 

This really does go beyond just being nice. 

Smart people can admit they don’t have all the answers. Which, by the way, also screams emotional intelligence

So, they have no issue showing they’re curious to learn from others, no matter who they are. 

And because of this attitude, they usually get to pick from some really cool, out-of-the-box solutions. 

Pretty clever, right?

2) “What would someone say against this idea?”

Using this phrase is kind of like asking for the cons in a pros and cons list, but way smarter. 

When someone whips this out, it’s not just them playing devil’s advocate for the fun of it. 

They’re actually doing some high-level thinking so they can see several moves ahead. 

It’s their way of making sure they’re not missing any blind spots or getting too comfy.

Having a fantastic idea is great and all, but you should never just go with it. Risk assessments are pretty important. 

Here’s a few more reasons why someone who uses this phrase is highly intelligent:

  • They’re not afraid to question things, even if those things are their own ideas. 
  • They value getting it right over just being right.
  • They’re all about testing their ideas to see if they hold up.

And it’s exactly this kind of critical thinking that often sets apart brilliant people from the ones who just pretend to be. 

Intelligent people know ironing out kinks can turn something good into something extraordinary. 

So, they’re willing to dig a little deeper and keep themselves and everyone else on their toes to ensure the decision they end up making wasn’t just the first, easiest one. 

3) “How can we make this simpler to understand?”

So, you’ve got a great idea, and it came out stronger after going through some rigorous questioning. 

Time to put it out there, right?

No. 

Well, maybe, yes. It depends on who the idea was created for. 

But usually, the people who come up with ideas are smarter than those it’s meant to serve – however hard that may be to accept. 

That’s why a super intelligent person will always try to present it in the simplest form possible. 

It’s not about dumbing things down, though. 

Intelligent people just know that for an idea to be useful, people need to actually understand it.

And they’ll break down complicated stuff into small sections until everyone does. 

Just being able to do this is an underrated kind of intelligence on its own!

In a world where information is fed to us 24/7, being the person who can make things crystal clear is like having a superpower. 

4) “What will this mean for us later on?”

Intelligence is all about thinking ahead and understanding that actions have consequences, sometimes way down the line. 

This phrase isn’t just a smart question – it shows someone isn’t caught up in the moment but playing the long game.

Every decision we make today shapes tomorrow. Highly intelligent people get this.

And this isn’t just applicable to their ideas.

They use this type of forward-thinking for decisions in their personal life, business, and even social issues. 

An intelligent person will consider every outcome, potential problem, and opportunity before they happen. 

This phrase is the mark of someone who not only cares about where they’re heading but is also committed to making sure they get there in the best shape possible. 

5) “What proves this is true?”

When someone asks this, they show they’re not the type who goes with everything anyone says. And this is a classic sign of high intelligence. 

People who aren’t that smart typically just follow the hype. It takes someone with a sharp mind to really think things through. 

In an age where misinformation spreads like wildfire, it’s extra important to stop and think. 

Not only does this phrase show someone is intelligent enough to do this, but it shows they’re not easily swayed by every passing trend or piece of gossip. 

This kind of questioning leads to better decision-making. It’s based on what’s actually real, not just what feels convincing at the moment. 

Don’t get me wrong, though.

Intelligent people don’t only rely on scientific data, although this is something they consider. 

They listen to anecdotal proof, too. 

This helps avoid the pitfalls of groupthink and bias, leading to more enlightened discussions and outcomes. 

6) “I really want to learn more about this.”

Highly intelligent people are always learning. 

That’s why you’ll regularly hear them use this phrase or something similar. 

Part of what makes someone more intelligent than others is their curiosity and the fact that they’re never happy with what they already know. 

They’re out there, hungry for more, always looking for another piece of information to add to their mental library. 

It’s this endless curiosity that keeps their brains active and growing.

Dropping a line like this also shows humility—another sign of deep intelligence. 

Intelligent people aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know everything. They’re always open to learning and becoming better thinkers, problem-solvers, and teammates.

7) “Let’s look at something like this that happened before.”

History kind of repeats itself. 

Don’t believe me? Just give it some real thought.

You don’t even have to think about the big stuff like war, disease, or human rights violations.

It really just boils down to actions and consequences. 

Intelligent people get this. And that’s why they like pulling from previous scenarios when brainstorming. 

This isn’t just about reading history – it’s about connecting dots and seeing patterns.

By drawing on past events or outcomes, they essentially say, “Hey, we’ve got some clues here on how things might pan out.” 

It’s a strategic move, showing they understand that while history might not literally repeat itself exactly, it often rhymes.

Why would you want to learn a lesson the hard way?

Highly intelligent people prefer not to.

And leveraging lessons from the past is a great way to see where mistakes were made and how to not make them again.  

The world is constantly changing. We all know that.

But an intelligent person knows human behavior and motivation typically stay the same. 

8) “Maybe there’s another reason.”

Highly intelligent people are rarely satisfied with superficial explanations. They want to dig deeper, and this phrase clearly signals this. 

Life isn’t black and white, but most people just accept things at face value. 

An intelligent person won’t. They consider alternative explanations and challenge their initial perceptions and judgments. 

It’s like they’re admitting their first guess or the most obvious answer isn’t always the right one. 

Which is a smart thing to do because it avoids falling for cognitive biases that can lead you astray. 

9) “These aren’t our only options.”

Similar to looking for deeper meanings, intelligent people like to consider more than the options in front of them. 

They really want to think things through and even try to be a little creative instead of making the most obvious choice. 

When someone uses this phrase, it reflects how expansive their thinking is and that they’re open to exploring unconventional ideas and solutions.

Using this phrase is also one way to push back against limitations and not take the easy road. 

It challenges others to think harder and look further, encouraging a mindset that doesn’t just accept things as they are but asks, “What else could be possible?” 

Intelligent people don’t settle quickly. They look at all the possible options before making a decision, and this phrase, like many of the others, shows this.  

It’s also this kind of thinking that leads to major breakthroughs!

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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