10 phrases only intelligent thinkers use, according to psychology

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Intelligent individuals think deeply about life, love and everything under the sun. 

This reflects in the words they say and the phrases they use. 

Psychology gives us valuable insights into some of the key phrases that show a person is highly intelligent and thinks at a profound level.

Here are a look at 10 unique phrases that highly articulate individuals and savvy thinkers use in their daily lives and workplaces. 

Let’s dive in.

1) “What could be some unintended consequences of this?”

Smart people think through decisions and policies at a deeper level. 

Even if a choice or matter seems straightforward, they question whether there could be unintended consequences. 

This is a savvy thing to do, and a cautionary note is often warranted. Because the truth is there are many mistakes we make and unfortunate things which happen that could be avoided by more forethought and troubleshooting. 

Intelligent people consider unintended consequences, because they know life doesn’t play fair, nor does it always behave predictably.

“In deciding whether to pursue a policy, intelligent people carefully consider the possibility of unintended consequences,” notes Dr. Marty Nemko Ph.D.

2) “What you just said reminds me of something you said a few minutes ago.”

The intelligent thinker ties words and concepts together when they are speaking to someone. 

Their attention isn’t easily distracted, nor do they necessarily jump straight to a new tangent and get lost in it. 

They circle back to what was discussed a bit earlier or a previous conversation they had with somebody and connect it up to what’s being said now. 

They also do this in bringing in topic updates, current events and things which are going on that relate to the topic. 

In other words, they are actively enlivening and deepening an interaction rather than just operating at a functional, but basic, level. 

As psychotherapist Jenny Maenpaa says:

“Active listeners will be able to circle back to an earlier point in the conversation … and make connections or draw themes from the conversation.” 

3) “I disagree with you, and here’s why…”

Disagreeing with somebody doesn’t necessarily take intelligence, but disagreeing and then specifying why is something intelligent thinkers do. 

Highly agreeable people are pleasant to talk to and fun to hang out with in a low-key social setting. They may be an amazing romantic partner or work colleague. 

But highly agreeable folks tend to rate lower on spatial and logical intelligence tests. 

Being very smart frequently entails being somewhat disagreeable and argumentative at times. 

As research psychologist Scott McGreal MSc. writes:

“Agreeable people may feel they are able to understand others and have a spiritual influence on them, but feel less confident of their ability to reason logically and solve mathematical or spatial problems.”

4) “Correlation doesn’t equal causation.”

Intelligent thinkers understand that just because two things overlap it doesn’t mean they caused each other. 

In other words, many people who are strong may eat meat, but that doesn’t mean eating meat is a significant factor in why they are strong (or maybe it does). 

The correlation doesn’t tell you the cause, in other words. It only tells you there is an overlap, which can then be examined. 

“Sometimes the best we can do is say there’s a correlation between these data and that’s it,” writes Leah Breevoort.

“In the real world, dealing with real people, it can be difficult or controversial to investigate causation through experiments.”

Speaking of correlation not equaling causation brings me to the next whopper: 

5) “Strong feelings don’t mean somebody is right.”

How true this is. 

We live in a postmodern society where feelings are supposedly the be-all-and-end-all. 

But the truth is that most feelings are temporary, and they can also be quite misleading and even deceptive to our future plans and rational beliefs.

Highly intelligent people know that their own strong feelings are a separate and not necessarily overlapping category from what is factually true. And they don’t confuse the two. 

Because they care about what’s actually true much more than they care about what they wish were true (or that would make them feel better if it were true).

Clinical psychologist Catherine Jackson notes that highly brilliant individuals are “flexible in their thinking and can adapt to changes, they think before they speak or act, and they’re able to effectively manage their emotions.”

6) “Can you tell me more about that?”

Questions are the bedrock of learning, and highly smart thinkers want to know more. 

Even if they have understood what somebody said, they frequently will ask for more information and background. 

Doing so has no real downside, as long as they have the time to listen:

Intelligent thinkers don’t feel a need to self-qualify or explain what they know. They are generally much more interested in finding out what others know and collaborating with them (or taking advantage of the gaps in knowledge they discover in others). 

“In a world where people talk to prove who they are, highly intelligent people are the opposite,” notes Jackson.

7) “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Deep thinkers have spent countless hours analyzing and understanding life

The above phrase shows an ability to understand scale. Incredible ambitions and ideas are wonderful, but they have to start with a single start point.

That first step and foray into the unknown is where that journey begins. 

Instead of being daunted by how big the project is, focus on what’s right in front of you that will advance you one step closer. That’s the message from the ultra-brainiacs. 

As author and business writer Jeff Haden advises:

“Every day we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Just take one small step.”

8) “Nothing is perfect.” 

Nothing is perfect, not even perfection.

We all exist within finite time and our physical selves don’t last forever. Time itself is a process of change and we have no choice in that. 

Even a supposed “perfection” that we imagine can often turn out to be quite dreadful once we feel stuck in it. 

What comes next? 

The deep thinker knows that it is human nature to strive, to seek and to sometimes find. But then you keep striving, growing and changing. 

Because life is always evolution, and no matter what it’s never going to be perfect (nor should it be).

As Oscar Wilde observed:

“There are only two great tragedies in life: one is not getting what you want and the other is getting it.”

9) “We all give and receive love in different ways.”

There is no one-size-fits-all solution or theory when it comes to love and emotions. 

The deep thinker understands how each of us processes and expresses ourselves differently. 

The more self-aware we can become, the more we are able to maximize our success and fulfillment in relationships, including the all-important relationship we have with ourselves. 

The deep thinker knows that so much of who we are is formed by early childhood experiences, and it also shapes a lot of who we become and how we relate to others. 

Psychologist Dr. Amanda O’Bryan Ph. D. puts it well:

“Our preferred way to receive love may be determined by moments in our childhood. 

“Although we all may appreciate affirmative words, hugs, and gifts, our preference for one over the other is shaped by the most meaningful connections made in our youth.”

10) “Let’s work this out together.”

No matter how smart somebody is, the truly brilliant individual understands the power of teamwork. 

They take a collaborative view on finding a solution and addressing the challenges in front of them. 

Those could be economic challenges, societal, social, personal or any other type. They do their best to bring associates, friends and colleagues in and think together on it. 

By working together there is so much more diversity of thought and experience brought to the table. 

As clinical psychologist Dr. Alyssa Roberts notes:

“This statement shows relationship management and a collaborative approach to problem-solving.”

We’re all in this together! But sometimes it’s only the most intelligent people who fully realize that and take it to heart. 

We can all take a leaf from their book.

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