8 traits of people who are smart but not very wise

It’s great to be smart, but it’s even better to be wise.


Because whilst intelligence allows us to gain knowledge and skills, wisdom helps us apply it.

There’s more to life than your IQ.

Having true wisdom brings experience, good judgment, and a sensitivity that is not present with intellect alone.

Some smart people can give away their lack of wisdom if they are yet to cultivate it.

Here’s how:

1) They don’t consider other people’s views or feelings

Growing up I thought my dad was the smartest person in the world.

He seemed to know endless facts and bits of information. He read many books on world history and science.

When he spoke, most of what he said felt confusing and went completely over my head —in my mind, yet another sign that he was next-level clever.

And he was a very intelligent man, yet often not the wisest.

As I got older I noticed how dismissive he was of any differing opinions, thoughts, and even feelings.

He would quickly shut them (or shout them down).

He seemed unable to consider things from another side. His intellect was undeniable, but it was fixed in his own perspective.

As an adult, I often think what a limiting and lonely “clever life” he must have lived because of that.

Part of the problem was the fact that he already felt like he knew it all, so what could anyone have to teach him?!

2) They feel (and act) superior

A wise person takes a humble approach to learning.

They stay open. They acknowledge that there is always room to grow. There will constantly be new experiences to absorb.

They are open to being wrong, in fact, they welcome it as it means they have found a place from which to expand.

A smart person without humility may take a smug and satisfied approach to what they know.

They feel safe in the knowledge that they are cleverer than those around them.

But in doing so, they often close the door to the bigger picture.

3) They don’t consider the bigger picture

Not everything in life can be deduced with analytical reasoning. Not everything can be reduced to a bottom line.

Life is far more complex and has many multifaceted elements to consider.

Intellect is going to help you solve plenty of mysteries. But without wisdom, many more will remain elusive.

Wisdom is expansive. So wise people make sure they look at everything and not just one situation or instance.

That way they can paint a full picture with all the information, in order to respond in the best way possible.

4) They define themselves by their intellect

We all have a tendency to put ourselves in boxes. We use labels to try to understand ourselves and our place in the world.

Often it’s the things that we identify most with that we can end up building our entire identity around.

For smart people, that may be their high IQ. But wise people tend to be far more well-rounded.

They don’t attach their sense of self to one narrowly defined characteristic. They see the diversity within themself.

It may be important for a smart person to be seen as such by the outside world. Yet a wise person cares little about that.

They don’t feel threatened because their self-image and value isn’t attached to their intellect alone.

5) They spend all their time thinking without doing

One of the most prominent differences between wisdom and intellect is this:


Being smart involves knowing things. But wise people go beyond that and have applied what they know.

Because in life there is theory, and then there is practical. You can only gain wisdom from combing the two.

To be smart, you only need to be in your own head, but to be wise you must go out into the world and experiment with what you think you know.

It’s putting it into practice, learning, and failing which gives you the hard-earned depth that comes from wisdom. 

Reading a book and studying how to start a business isn’t the same as doing it.

Some smart people can spend their entire lives shielding themselves from the messiness of life.

But only through facing and navigating through those ups and downs will we gain wisdom.

6) They lack common sense

So-called common sense can be really lacking in smart people, but never in wise people.

In a strange way, their brain power is actually overriding it.

They are so set on the logical option, that they overlook the fact it isn’t always the best option.

Having good judgment is not synonymous with being knowledgeable.

For example, when the wisest thing to do is to feel and not think, a clever person can struggle to recognize that.

They expect life to be ordered in a rational way, but the reality is that isn’t always the case.

We cannot overlook the vital importance that feelings play in the world around us.

And that can be a vital mistake that some smart people may make. 

7) They focus on logic at the expense of emotion

There is no doubt that feelings can muddy the waters.

For that reason, it can be a good idea to try to leave your emotions out of certain decisions and discussions.

Yet it’s also easier said than done.

Our emotions have been designed to act as powerful signals to us.

That’s not by accident.

As messy as they can feel they also help us to connect with one another on a deeper level, and warn us when something doesn’t feel right.

That’s why EQ skills such as empathy, understanding, and compassion are part of our survival toolbelt.

Wise people strive to control their emotions but never ignore them.

Smart people may try to dismiss feelings as second class compared to logic. But wise people respect and utilize their true power.

8) They don’t know when to keep their mouth shut

Sometimes this can come as a direct result of feeling smarter and so, superior to others.

But often it comes from simply lacking the social awareness to spare people’s feelings.

A wise person knows when to keep their mouth shut.

They are far less likely to put their foot in their mouth than someone who is just smart (yet lacking in EQ).

Wisdom prompts us to listen, in order for us to learn.

Being smart prompts us to talk, so that we can teach others what we think we know.

Being wise opens more doors than being smart

We all want to be happy. We all strive for meaningful and purposeful lives.

And it’s wisdom that will help us achieve this— far more than intellect.

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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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