🌻6 Things Socially Intelligent People Don’t Do


Act like a know-it-all

Some, many, hell, most high IQ people are dumb in the most important area of life.


You’re likely intelligent enough to get the outcomes you want. But you have to be able to combine different forms of ‘intelligence’ to get what you want.

Emotional intelligence helps you stay the course when you’re trying to achieve your goals.

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Social intelligence is an entirely different form of intelligence. And it can be something really smart people lack. We all have blind spots. Socially intelligent people avoid these gaffes as much as possible.

Read also: 5 Common bad habits holding you back from success

Pick Fights

“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.” — Dale Carnegie

I love to play devil’s advocate. Sometimes I’m a contrarian to a fault. But I try to use these tendencies the right way. I try to save them for forums like this where I’m speaking to a public audience. That way, people are less likely to take my views personally.

I try to avoid arguing with people. Like the quote says, arguing is counterproductive. Even if you destroy someone in an argument, you don’t gain any social points from it. Nine times out of ten, it makes you look bad.

Yes, you can debate. Yes, it’s important to discuss ideas with other people, even people you disagree with. But let’s be honest, how often do people ‘debate’ in good faith versus trying to shove their arguments down each other’s throats? Exactly.

Avoid debates on hot-button issues altogether, e.g., politics, religion, you know the other issues I’m talking about. Waste of time.

Show Off a Trait That Doesn’t Need Your Help to Show

“A know-it-all is a person who knows everything except for how annoying he is.” — Demitri Martin

If you’re smart, it will be self-evident when you talk to people. You don’t have to go out of your way to use big words, always have the answer to every question, and use other little signals to show people how intelligent you are.

Being a ‘know-it-all’ signals insecurity. Why try so hard? Having trivial knowledge is just one of many aspects of your personality and your life. Most people who have to show off their intelligence do it because they feel they lack in other areas. It’s a cope.

“Avoid the temptation of showing how clever you are — it is far more clever to conceal the mechanism of your cleverness.” — Robert Greene

Also, there are positive benefits to hiding your intelligence:

When others don’t get the sense that you feel like you’re better than them, they’ll open up to you
Not to get machiavellian, but sometimes you want people to underestimate you
You avoid the possibility of speaking outside of your area of expertise. This is something smart people do often, which ends up making them look dumb
Constantly Try to “Jump In”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey

You’ve heard this one before, but it’s so true and so useful. Socially intelligent people don’t always have to get a word in. People will think you’re a great conversationalist if you just listen to them.

When you actually listen, you can truly add to the conversation by giving thoughtful replies. You can make them feel heard by repeating back the things they’ve said. Think of how annoyed you feel when it’s clear someone’s not listening to you. They’re just waiting to jump in and tell their story. It gets awkward when people are trying to jump over each other to talk.

I host a podcast with four other co-hosts. That’s a lot of Mics. I try to be careful to let other people talk for a while, soak in their thoughts, then respond. It makes for a much better vibe and flow to the entire episode. You can use this skill in all sorts of settings — one on one conversations, interviews, parties, and group gatherings.

Next time you’re having a conversation, try not to jump in and fill the dead space at all. Maintain eye contact and truly listen to the other person. Sometimes it takes people back because it’s so rare that people actually show restraint in conversation. Try it and watch the magic happen.

Reveal Way too Much

“Always say less than necessary.” — Robert Greene

Again, this one is similar to the point above but slightly different. See, that’s the thing, you don’t have to do much to be socially intelligent. Heck, being socially intelligent is often a product of doing less.

Success in life, period, comes from getting really good at doing simple and obvious things. If these strategies seem simple to you, ask yourself how well you actually execute them.

Anyway, nine times out of ten it’s always better to hold a bit back. This quote comes to mind:

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” — Abraham Lincoln

You don’t need to become a mute. You don’t need to avoid sharing your opinion altogether. Just think for a second. You get the point. By saying less, you add more value to what you do say.

Think of the people you know who always yap, yap, yap. Do you take them seriously? Now, think of the people who don’t run their mouths constantly, but jump into conversations with good insights, punchy jokes, and noticeable commentary.

You can be gregarious, talkative, and expressive without talking too much.

Reveal Too Much About Others

“Be Impeccable With your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Is it possible to avoid gossiping altogether? I don’t know. But it’s important to be mindful of what you say. If you’re going to talk about other people, have something positive to say. It’s not that you have to have a high opinion of everyone you know, but the way you go about sharing your opinions matters.

The phrase ‘praise specifically, criticize generally’ comes to mind. If you have an issue with a certain way of thinking or behavior, voice that, but avoid personally attacking people. And then be prudent with your praise, too. You don’t have to be a kiss-ass, just get in the habit of complimenting people when they do something that truly impresses you.

When others are gossiping and they want you to feed into it, avoid feeding into it in a tactful way. Don’t say something like “I’m not a gossip.” Just use a phrase that indicates you’re not going to get involved without being rude. I’ll usually say something like “Ah, yeah, I don’t really know them that well. Can’t speak on it.” And then move right on to the next subject.

Gossiping is natural. It’s a part of our evolutionary wiring. So you don’t need to carefully monitor yourself and others to make sure there’s 0.00 percent gossip. Just be mindful and tactful.

Read also: 4 habits confident people avoid

Stand Too Far In Front

“It is not the genius at the top giving directions that makes people great. It is great people that make the guy at the top look like a genius.” — Simon Sinek

Similar to the point about displaying your intelligence, avoid bragging about yourself or taking credit for every little thing. If you’re working with a team, give credit to the team. Instead of bragging about your accomplishments, talk about the things in your life that excite you.

When people ask me about what I do, I don’t say “I’m a three-time published author with a six-figure company and millions of readers.” I talk about how much I love to write, share ideas, and connect with people through my profession. Simple.

People can tell if you like yourself. They can tell if you’re proud of your accomplishments. You don’t have to tell them overtly. Again, going out of your way to do…anything, can be seen as a sign of insecurity instead of confidence.

Confidence radiates. Confidence comes from a lack of want. When you know who you are, what you value, what you want out of life, the type of people you want to associate with, etc., you can get all of that across in a tactful way.

Final Thoughts

Keep it simple.

Social intelligence is a byproduct of holding yourself to a basic level of restraint. It’s difficult. We live in a world that grows more outraged, loud, and pretentious every day. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb by not participating in this new culture of ours.

You’ll win friends and influence people. Your lack of neediness will attract people to you. And you’ll get everything you want others to know across without having to force a thing.

Contributed by AYODEJI AWOSIKA

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