13 ways to show you’re a smart person without saying a word

When somebody speaks you can often get a quick sense of their intelligence. 

But there are also ways to convey your smarts without saying a single word. 

This can be especially powerful and effective in social and career situations. 

Here’s how… 

1) Take care of yourself

Smart people look after themselves in every possible way. 

This means they respect their appearance, their health, their time and their style.

If you want to demonstrate intelligence, look after yourself.

Practice good hygiene, comb or brush your hair, keep facial hair trimmed and dress well. 

Smart people look after themselves, simple as that. 

2) Make eye contact 

The next key habit to pick up is to look people in the eyes. 

Making eye contact shows both confidence and intelligence. 

Avoidance of eye contact, by contrast, shows a lack of self-esteem, guilt or some kind of reservation. 

You don’t need to have a staring contest, but do your best to look people in the eye when you meet them and when they’re talking to you. 

It’s a great habit to have and demonstrates self-worth and smarts. 

3) Be competent 

Intelligence can be conveyed through words, true, but a far more effective way is to convey it through actions. 

The more competent you are, the smarter everyone will find you

If you’re getting a ride with friends and you get a flat tire, you’ll come across as much more intelligent by getting out and changing the tire than you would by talking about or analyzing why you got a flat tire. 


In every area, people appreciate and respect those whose actions demonstrate intelligence far more than those who only have words to offer. 

This ties directly into the next point…

4) Look after needs 

Smart people are competent and they are also group-conscious. 

When you care about those around you and look after their needs, you are immediately seen as intelligent and capable. 

Think of a doctor who swiftly attends to a patient in the emergency room, quickly diagnosing what’s gone wrong with her and rushing her to emergency surgery. 

This doctor is seen as intelligent, competent and a highly valuable human being. 

A second doctor is busy texting his girlfriend and lets the patient suffer and cry for over half an hour in the ER waiting room. 

After getting her into triage he dismissively suggests a medicine that’s not even effective and asks his colleague to figure out what to do with her so he can go on a dinner break. 

Doctor two may be a brilliant guy, but his behavior and failure to look after somebody’s needs has made him be perceived as either ignorant or even malicious.

5) Lend a helping hand 

The above example points out the perception of somebody being smart in a work situation. 

In all situations, people who help tend to be seen as smarter or at least more valuable. 

There’s a limit, of course, and it’s crucial you take care of yourself first

But people who are very self-centered and rarely lend a hand tend to be seen as either not smart or low value. 

If you want to be perceived as intelligent, become a problem solver. 

Everybody has problems, and everybody loves having them solved. 

If that’s you, it won’t be long until you’re being praised extensively for your intelligence and smarts. 

6) Radiate calm 

Intelligence can be very well demonstrated by radiating calm. 

Whether you have obtained this calm via meditation, prayer, exercise or prescription drugs isn’t entirely the point. 

It’s the result that makes the biggest impact on those you cross paths with:

When you’re radiating calm, people feel that and it even has the power to defuse some tricky and tense conflicts and situations. 

When you’re calm, in control and you have a handle on things, people feel that.

7) Hang tasteful art

If you have an apartment or home, hang tasteful art in it. 

Maybe even buy a small sculpture or creative artwork of some kind to place on a coffee table. 

Not only is this very classy, it also shows taste and intelligence. 

Any visitors will immediately think of you as a smarter person who has good taste.

8) Keep spaces clean

Cleanliness and organization is another way to signal high intelligence

Being smart means you can manage your time and living space in an effective and adult way. 

This means that where you live, your vehicle, your office space and your surroundings such as your yard are well-managed and clean. 

You will inevitably be seen as more intelligent if you surround yourself with order and keep your possessions and surroundings in good stead. 

9) Dress to kill

The way you dress does telegraph a lot about your intelligence level.

Like it or not, how you choose to present yourself in terms of your choice of clothes creates very strong first impressions. 

Some tips: 

Don’t wear juvenile styles far below your age range or clothing that is crying out to be noticed too loudly. 

Keep it simple, clean, classic. 

Or at least keep it the way that you want to be perceived. 

If you don’t care how you’re perceived that’s perfectly fine as well. Some of the greatest geniuses of our time have been sloppy dressers who could barely tie their shoes. 

But if you want to come across as a brainiac, dress to kill! 

10) Read high-caliber books 

We’ve all heard of the type of man or woman who keeps smart-looking books just to create the impression they’re smart

They stick a copy of Infinite Jest or jam some Faulkner on the shelf and wait for guests to comment on their unique and impressive taste. 

These people tend to be strikingly not smart. 

But if you actually read high-caliber, thought-provoking books, people are going to immediately realize you are intelligent

If you park yourself in a cafe reading a copy of Johann Fichte’s 1799 book The Vocation of Man or Jacques Tellul’s 1954 groundbreaker The Technological Society, anybody who’s knowledge about these types of subjects is going to immediately realize you’re above average intelligence. 

Not a word spoken, but trust me: message fully delivered. 

11) Listen to cerebral audiobooks

Audiobooks are another great way to show your intelligence without speaking. 

You may be chopping vegetables in the kitchen or driving to work while listening to something quite unique and cerebral. 

If there are other people around, they’re going to take note. 

Alternately, you may be going for a walk or jog while listening to a good audiobook and somebody asks what you’re listening to. 

Without a word you tilt your smartphone screen at them and their eyes widen:

You’re clearly a smart person if you’re listening to that!

12) Watch deep films

The films you like and choose to watch also act as a signifier of intelligence. 

This could be in the sense of asking somebody out on a date to a movie and selecting a certain type of film.

It could also be in recommending a film to a friend or colleague, or in telling people what your favorite series or films are. 

People will form judgments about who you are and how smart you are based on what films you’re passionate about. 

Watching deep films shows clearly that you’re in a different league.

13) Play a musical instrument

There’s a great way to show your intelligence and high value without ever saying a word, and that is to play a musical instrument. 

Maybe it’s accordion, piano, guitar or drums. 

Maybe it’s harmonica or the washboard. 

Your choice of instrument is entirely up to you. 

But when you start playing those tunes, people’s attention turns to you and they feel interested and maybe even grateful and inspired. 

They also immediately assess your intelligence and value at a higher level.

What, me smart? 

The best part of showing you’re smart without saying it is that other smart people will notice.

You don’t have to tell people how many languages you speak or drop that you went to Yale and have a Ph. D.

Let the above methods speak for themselves. 

Smart people will be drawn to your homing beacon and you’ll find your tribe in no time. 

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