Let’s face it—everyone is, more or less, judgmental.
And in general, people instantly respect those who they consider intelligent.
Now you don’t really need to have an IQ of 1000, you just have to make them THINK you’re not dense (and if possible, that you’re actually wise).
Here are simple ways to show you’re intelligent within minutes of meeting someone:
1) Have a confident gaze
Although eye contact has nothing to do with intelligence, maintaining a steady gaze can make others think you’re intelligent.
What’s interesting is that if you’re actually smart, you might actually find this challenging. Scientists have learned that most geniuses are introverts and some of them even have difficulty with eye contact.
But, you see, when it comes to first impressions, it’s all about appearing intelligent, more than actual intelligence.
That’s why if you want to make people remember you as someone smart, the first step is learning how to hold the right amount of eye contact.
2) Be present and attentive
While not all intelligent people are able to stay in the present—in fact, most of them are lost in thought—this is again one of those things that one must do to appear smarter.
When you’re talking to someone, pay attention to what they’re saying.
Don’t think about what you’ll have for dinner or what you should do at work. And of course, minimize distractions by putting away your phone.
You might think that being intelligent means talking a lot, but it’s actually also about listening well and being able to stay on track during a conversation.
So if you want to leave a good impression, listen—and listen well.
3) Ask questions
Curiosity is a sign of intelligence so asking questions will make them immediately think you’re intelligent.
But don’t just ask any question, make sure you ask questions that make sense!
The good thing is that this will come naturally if you’re paying close attention to the person talking to you.
Ask questions only when you’re listening intently. And to make sure you appear genuine, ask questions when you’re actually curious and not just pretending to be interested.
4) Pay attention to your surroundings
While many geniuses are actually oblivious to their surroundings, generally, you’d be perceived as someone smart if you’re alert to what’s happening around you.
You don’t have to observe every detail and react to every little thing. After all, you should be focusing on the person you’re talking with.
But if something unusual happens—say, an ostrich passes by or someone sings in an unusual language—pay attention and react.
5) Don’t take photos of your food
It seems strange to include this here, but let’s face it—many of us do this.
By all means, take as many photos as you want and upload them to your socials…but NOT when you’re trying to leave a good impression.
I’m not saying that people who love posting on social media are dumb. I know a lot of intelligent people who post on social media!
But people can be judgmental, especially if they still don’t know you well. And in general, they’d think that you taking photos of your food means you’re “shallow” or “superficial”.
So do that another time. For now, keep your phone away.
6) Say “I think” and “Maybe” instead of “I’m sure”
A bit of self-doubt is a sign of intelligence. It’s usually the ignorant ones who are so sure of everything.
Saying “I think” and “maybe” means you’re aware of the possibility that you could be wrong, and that you’re aware that you’re just human who’s prone to make mistakes.
It’s also an invitation for others to react.
If you’re talking to intelligent people, they can sense this right away and would instantly consider you as someone more intelligent than others.
7) Let them finish what they’re saying
Cutting people off mid-sentence is rude. But it also shows that you’re not so intelligent.
After all, intelligent people would want to gather enough information before they open their mouths to react.
Why would they want to know only 80% of something if they can know 90% or even 100% if only they let people finish talking.
So instead of saying “sorry to interrupt but…” or “I’m gonna cut you right there”, they’d keep their mouths shut.
8) Refrain from using “WTF” and “OMG”
I know many intelligent people who use slang…and I really like that they do that.
It shows they’re not just book smart, they’re also in touch with the real world and are not concerned with sounding smart.
But the thing is…they refrain from using them when they’re with people they want to impress, like when they have a meeting or they’re attending a conference.
Of course, it’s all about leaving a good impression.
Once they’re sure that others won’t think of them as someone dumb, they’d loosen up and just be their usual self.
So if you want people to think you’re intelligent, don’t use these expressions.
9) Share your honest opinion
Smart people can tell when you’re just trying to impress them when you try to come up with “intelligent” opinions.
And you know what? They’re actually kinda tired of this.
You know what people really want? Authenticity, curiosity, and a bit of an “I don’t give a damn” attitude.
So don’t be scared to share your honest opinion on something. Just make sure you make it clear to them that you’re aware that your opinions could be wrong or silly or even stupid.
Say “I know it sounds a bit stupid but I think…” or “To be honest, based on my limited knowledge, I think…”
Intelligent people appreciate people who actually form their own opinions.
10) Stay quiet when there’s nothing much to say
Because it’s okay!
Filling silence with fluff will just make you look less intelligent than you really are, so don’t do it.
The rule “less is more” applies to first interactions. It’s totally okay to be quiet if you have nothing interesting or good to say.
And you know what, here’s a secret: the truly intelligent people don’t get turned off by silence.
They’d actually appreciate people who talk less and open their mouths only when they say something sensible.
So what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t force yourself. Just try to relax. Trust me, you’ll leave a better impression that way.
11) Avoid gossip
While intelligent people don’t automatically think you’re vile for sharing gossip, they are just really not interested in it—like, at all.
The private lives of other people just don’t interest them so much…unless of course, they’re talking about sociology or psychology (in that case, it won’t really be gossip, would it?).
If you share ANY gossip, it leaves people the impression that you’re into trivial things, and that you’re actually kinda shallow.
So don’t do it…not even if they start the gossip. Just try your best to nod along and then change the topic.
12) Share something interesting
I’m sure you expected this. In fact, it’s too obvious that it should be at the top of this list.
The only rule I’m going to share when it comes to sharing information is to not try too hard.
Don’t force it.
If you have something interesting to share, share it. But try to insert it in the convo as smoothly as possible. And keep it short, too!
You don’t want them to think that you’re arrogant or a know-it-all. You’d rather leave the impression that you’re smart but really nice, not someone highly intelligent but annoying.
13) Confidently say “I don’t know”
The true sign of intelligence is the awareness that you don’t know everything.
It shows you’re thirsty for knowledge.
So if they’re talking about the latest supertyphoon in India or the history of Versailles, don’t pretend to know if you really don’t. Smart people can detect when you’re just pretending!
And don’t just become detached and disinterested either or else they’d think you’re not interested about the world.
The better approach is to ask. Intelligent people don’t judge people who haven’t heard the latest news or haven’t known the millions of facts about history. They also don’t know everything!
They, however, judge people who’d rather not learn just because they don’t want to appear ignorant.
So ask away. You won’t look stupid.
And if they’re the type of people who’d be turned off when you ask questions and say “I don’t know”, well…they’re not as intelligent as you think they are.
You see, it’s actually easy to leave an impression that you’re intelligent.
There’s no need for you to impress them with the things you know, you just have to stay curious and be truly present.
And, most of all, you just have to show them that you’re confident in yourself.