If you want people to think you’re smart, say goodbye to these 11 behaviors

Here’s a confession for you: my friends used to say I always acted a bit daft.

And they were right.

I started reading philosophy at thirteen, studied four different languages by the time I was twenty, and got straight As throughout my academic journey, but no matter how intellectually-minded I was, very few people will think you’re smart when you try to pour water into your ironing machine after you’ve plugged it into the socket.

Yeah. I wasn’t exactly the brightest.

But you know what? Over time, I learned there are specific behaviors that signal a lack of intelligence. All you need to do is avoid them.

If you want people to think you’re smart, say goodbye to these 11 behaviors.

1) Believing almost anything you’re told without proof

My ex-boyfriend once told me, “Hey, have you heard of that flute that’s silent when you play it and that makes a noise when you stop blowing air into it?”

“Oh wow,” I said. “What’s it called? That’s so interesting.”

He looked at my best friend, and they both burst out laughing. Not in a mean way, but in a pranking-Denisa-is-so-much-fun way. Obviously, there’s no musical instrument like that. It’d just play nonstop once you put it away.

They knew I’d fall for it.

So, lesson number one: if people tell you something a bit far-fetched, google it or ask to see proof.

2) Speaking with uncertainty

Another thing I learned was to put more firmness into my words. If I’m truly sure about something, the easiest way to seem like a bit of my IQ has fallen out of my head is to speak in uncertain terms.

“Two plus two equals four, right? I mean, I’m not exactly sure, it could be five if you looked at it from a different perspective I suppose, I could be wrong but it sounds quite plausible.”

No one would obviously say that (unless you’ve been transported into 1984 by George Orwell, I guess), but it illustrates the point.

Speak like you know what you’re talking about and people will automatically think you’re smart.

Well, unless you take it too far…

3) Acting like a know-it-all

The other side of the coin is talking with uncertainty about stuff you know almost nothing about.

Trust me, people will be able to tell. Fake confidence shines so bright it’s blinding.

I’ve met men who could ramble on for ages about things they had zero expertise in. When you pointed out an error in their argument, they’d wave their hand, change the topic, or use various logical fallacies to escape the weight of their own embarrassment.

And while we’re on the topic of logical fallacies…

4) Relying on logical fallacies during arguments

Have you ever been in a situation where you say something reasonable, and the other person turns it into a complete over-exaggeration?

“I think fast fashion is bad for the planet.”

“Oh, and what would you have us do? We’ll end up sewing our own stuff and paying ridiculous amounts of money for fabric if they close it all down!”

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the slippery slope fallacy – arguing that if one thing happens, a radical sequence of events will follow.

When you use this faulty reasoning in a discussion, it shows you think in black-and-white terms and aren’t approaching the issue from a contextualized and complex point of view.

In other words, you don’t seem very smart.

5) Letting your feelings get the better of you

Sometimes, the reason people resort to logical fallacies is that they’re so riled up and drowning in their emotions that they can’t see clearly.

They don’t think before they talk, they let their emotions take complete control of them, and they say things they later regret.

Obviously, this is a very effective way to make a fool out of yourself. Every time you’re angry, process it first – go for a run, punch your pillows, lift some weights – and then come back when things have calmed down a bit.

6) Jumping to conclusions too quickly

I used to let my assumptions rule me. I assumed I knew what other people thought, how they felt, and why they did what they did – only to find out you can never be 100% sure.

Humans are incredibly complex. You might think your partner’s feeling down because you were too busy to spend some time with them while all they’re thinking about is their struggles at work.

If you don’t know something, ask. It shows you understand there is nuance to human behavior. Nothing is as simple as it looks.

7) Sticking to a faulty opinion despite clear contradictory evidence

Beliefs are a strange thing. You can incorporate a belief so deeply into your personality that you disregard any contradictory proof – even if it’s staring you in the face.

However, having a closed mind and being immune to any new information is a big sign that you’re not very smart.

When you’re intelligent, you not only know many things but you’re also open to changing those opinions and beliefs based on new evidence and experiences.

Galileo said the Earth rotated around the Sun and was prosecuted. As it turns out, he was right.

And the people who refused to change their beliefs? Not very smart.

8) Lacking curiosity during conversations

Curiosity is the hallmark of intelligence. If you don’t go out of your way to find out what the world has to offer, you never get the chance to expand and grow. In other words, you stagnate.

But learning new things is one of the main ways to improve your cognitive skills and therefore become smarter, so it’s time to get your game on and explore the universe for what it truly is.

Conversations are the perfect starting point. If you want people to think you’re smart, ask them interesting questions, show a real interest in what they’re saying, and reply in a thoughtful manner.

9) Going back on your words and decisions

Before you make a decision, it’s crucial to take every single thing into consideration. Look at the pros and cons, explore the whole context, think through the consequences.

This is because once your decision is made, you shouldn’t go back on it. Smart people know what they’re doing. They don’t change their mind every other day.

Keep your promises, make careful decisions, and use your words wisely.

10) Overusing filler words

Speaking of words, language is one of the first points of contact between your mind and that of someone new. What you say is crucial when it comes to first impressions.

Let’s look at an example.

Person 1 says, “Do you want to go grab a coffee? The weather’s not great, so I thought we could have a chat for a bit and then go to the cinema if you’re up for it.”

Person 2 says, “Do you want to, like, maybe grab a coffee and stuff? The weather’s not great and stuff, so maybe we can, like, chat for a bit and then go to the cinema, you know?”

Who sounds smarter?

11) Mixing up “you’re” and “your”

As someone who learned English as a second language, I’m always surprised at how many native speakers mix up basic grammar.

If you want people to think you’re smart, you’ve got to master the basics of linguistics.

So, on a final note, always know the difference between “you’re” and “your”, as well as “it’s” and “its.”

It sounds like a small thing, but it makes a world of difference.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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