7 things highly intelligent people do differently at work

Intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. And there are numerous ways to measure it.

But hold up. I’m not just talking about how many numbers of Pi you can recite, your IQ score, or your stellar academic record. 

Intelligence can be as simple as having the mental capacity to learn, comprehend, reason, and apply that knowledge effectively.

And it rarely has to do with how well you did on a test back in high school. In fact, for some, it’s a little more practical. 

This can be anything from real-world cognitive skills such as memory, language, planning, or self-awareness to deciphering a Rubik’s cube in record time.

Okay, maybe that last one’s open to debate.

But then there’s the whole nature vs nurture argument

So how does that all translate to the workplace? Well, here are 7 things highly intelligent people do differently at work.

1) They are creative problem-solvers

Do you ever just have one of those days? You know what I mean. A time when, no matter what you’re doing, you face problem after problem. 

It could be small or something utterly perplexing.

Either way, it’s exhausting and seemingly never-ending. Especially when you’re under pressure.

But where others may want to throw in the towel, those with a high intelligence work tirelessly to find a solution. And usually, it’s something their colleagues have overlooked.

How? Let me break it down for you.

A good problem-solver first analyzes the situation. Then, they identify the problem. Finally, they use that knowledge to swiftly remedy the issue. 

Simply put, they approach the problem with a creative mindset. And by gaining a full understanding of the problem, they can easily formulate an action plan based on the available options. 

And their ability to think outside of the box offers a fresh perspective. A fundamental life skill that comes in handy within the workplace. 

2) They use real-world critical thinking 

Similar to problem-solving, critical thinking is an important workplace skill. 

And experts believe that it could be a better indicator of intelligence than standardized testing. 

But this ability to apply rational thought doesn’t come naturally to some. Particularly in the real world, where things aren’t always black and white.

Those with critical thinking skills like to evaluate the situation from multiple angles. 

And by using a systematic and logical mindset, they weigh up the pros and cons. Furthermore, they consider the short and long-term consequences of their decision to reach a sound, unbiased conclusion. 

To do this, critical thinkers aren’t afraid to ask insightful questions and go against the grain by challenging assumptions. 

3) They exhibit meticulous attention to detail

I don’t just mean dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. 

Although, that’s important too. Especially when you’re after that big promotion at work. 

Ultimately, being detail-oriented goes beyond professional perfectionism, unblemished reports, or flawless presentations. 

Highly intelligent people can be extremely perceptive when it comes to their surroundings. 

And they generally have an above-average emotional awareness, enabling them to navigate tricky workplace dynamics. 

This cognitive aptitude allows them to effortlessly identify errors, discrepancies, and other inconsistencies around the office. And they can do so with understanding and empathy.

In a nutshell, they notice when Carol from IT isn’t quite herself. Or when their cubicle neighbor, Lewis, isn’t pulling his weight. 

It’s their superpower. 

And it’s this attention to detail that makes them conscientious and diligent workers who value teamwork.

Just don’t let that perfectionism get in the way. 

4) They know how to prioritize tasks

There’s no shortage of time management tips online. And with it, there’s a slew of theories on how to best manage your time effectively. 

Whether it’s the five Ps, four Ds, or your basic ABCs. It can all get pretty confusing. 

But not for those in the know!

People equipped with time management skills understand how to prioritize tasks effectively. 

This allows them to balance their workload and handle multiple responsibilities, without missing important deadlines. 

Most importantly, they acknowledge that their perfectionism can lead to procrastination.  

And when things get too much, they’re not afraid to delegate. 

5) They are excellent communicators

Picture this. You asked your colleague how their weekend went, only for it to turn into an epic saga with more plot holes than your favorite evening sitcom. 

It’s the kind of information that could have been summed up in 5 minutes. But now you’re 40 minutes into this Greek tragedy and you’re still none the wiser. 

If only they knew how to deliver their point in a clear and concise manner. Maybe then, you could offer a viable solution. 

Thankfully, highly intelligent people know this. 

They appreciate that time is finite. And sometimes, getting their point across quickly (no matter how complex) can be the difference between being successful, and not. 

At the same time, they understand that not everyone is alike. In response, they tailor their delivery to suit their audience and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

And it’s this adaptability, that keeps their coworkers engaged and makes them excellent team players.

6) Their imaginative mindset promotes innovation

If you thought intelligence was all about quick math or being a serious history buff – you couldn’t be more wrong!

Intelligence isn’t one size fits all. And here’s a case in point.

To be truly innovative, you need a certain je ne sais quoi. A creative flare and the ability to imagine the impossible. 

And there’s a fine line between science and art.

Just take Einstein for instance, who once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

In essence, imagination and creativity lead to groundbreaking ideas, innovation, and improvements in the workplace.

7) They’ve mastered the art of decision-making

Every day we’re faced with choices. 

Some are easy. For example, picking out what you want for lunch today.

Others, however, are not only time crucial but they can be life-altering – with logic, reason, and empathy all vying for attention. And this is where being decisive can make all the difference. 

But it’s not always that clear-cut when other people are involved. 

Make the right decision, and you can happily get on with your day looking like a hero. Make a wrong one and it can have disastrous consequences for those around you. 

And sometimes, there’s simply no right or wrong answer – just what’s best based on the facts. 

Highly intelligent people use their moral compass to weigh out the options. They do this while applying the 3-levels of ethical decision-making and considering the big picture to arrive at a fair conclusion. 

This makes them a dependable team member in a crisis and it contributes to a positive work culture overall. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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