Intelligence or smarts can manifest in many different ways. Sometimes it shows itself in seemingly totally spontaneous manners, things we don’t even connote with someone who is bright. Often those who are very proficient in one area of intelligence are a little lacking in others. A brilliant mathematician may lack an understanding of poetry or abstract art, while a leading physicist may be extremely socially challenged in a similar sense.
There are those lucky few however, that seem to somehow have tapped into many or all of the nuanced forms of intelligence and can function at a uniquely high level of ability in numerous opposing realms. These people tend to share common traits which others might not even consider connected to their intellectual talents. Listed below are 10 of these traits most commonly found among the subtly brilliant.
1. Fluidity of thought and opinion.
These people know that to take a staunch position on something is to limit yourself to that position. While they are perfectly capable of forming strong opinions or beliefs, they prefer to stay away from rigid absolutes because they know that one must keep their mind open to new possibilities at all times.
2. They’re never hasty.
They will always take as much time and energy as they need to deeply and genuinely consider what they want to say before they say it. They will take into account whether it is kind or socially acceptable, whether it is necessary or will add anything to the conversation, and whether or not they feel ready to confront the possible reactions to it. It may seem like a lot of work, but this is usually a momentary process in the head that takes only a few extra seconds of thought.
3. Never contributing unless it will benefit the group.
Intelligent people don’t tend to be interested in small talk. They don’t speak or do things just for the attention or to fill the awkward silence and spaces. They will only become involved in a situation if they think they have something to bring to the table, something that will help or assist in a positive or necessary way. Otherwise they simply won’t interject.
4. They march to their own drummer.
They aren’t worried about fitting in with the crowd because they know sometimes the crowd is boring or even downright wrong. They base their thoughts and opinions on information and fact because they are acutely aware of the great potential human beings have for making mistakes.
This doesn’t mean they won’t consider other people’s feelings on things, but they will always want to form their own individual ideas about it once they’ve obtained as much information as they can.
5. They know that everyone is capable of being wrong. Including themselves.
Only the fool believes that men are infallible. The truly intelligent person will always admit when they’re wrong or they’ve made a mistake. You don’t grow to be wise or well-educated if you can’t accept being incorrect. This also goes for those you might consider personal heroes. You can respect someone greatly for many things and still believe it when they screw up.
6. They always strive to be objective.
Instead of being emotional about it and telling a person they’re just wrong, someone who is very intelligent will instead offer a different perspective. It’s not about winning or losing the argument, it’s about helping the other person to understand things in a different, perhaps better or clearer way. The smart man/woman would rather help someone else come to their own conclusion than force personal opinions on them.
7. They don’t let emotion get the best of them.
They will always do whatever they can to stay calm and clear-headed. When you allow your emotions and personal bias to inform your speech and behavior, people suffer. Communication just doesn’t happen the way it should and everyone ends up angry or upset. Staying relaxed, trying not to take anything personally and relying on facts and logic are the best way to find a good solution or compromise to any difficult situation.
8. They often rely on intuition.
It may sound cliche, but sometimes the best thing you can do is trust your instincts. Intelligent people know that human beings once relied entirely on their gut for survival, and though we’ve long since evolved past that, our physical feelings can still give us some useful hints for life now. Never deny your instincts, they exist for a good reason.
9. They are people of action, not just words.
Too many of us will react to a troublesome issue by sitting around and trying to think our way out of it. While I’m not suggesting that we remove thought from the equation entirely, I am telling you that the truly intelligent know better than to get paralyzed in thought.
At some point you’ve got to take the risk and act, or you’ll be immobilized permanently. No good can come of sitting there and obsessing over your problem, you have to make a plan of action and follow through with it in order to have any hope of progressing.
10. They don’t need your validation.
Most of the time when someone is judging you harshly, what they’re really doing is revealing what type of person they are. Intelligent people don’t worry about judgment or what others are saying about them. They do what feels right and important to them and they don’t bother letting others shame them for it.
They will take into consideration the thoughts of those they greatly admire and respect, and if they think they’re being called out on something they deserve to be called out on, they won’t deny it, but overall their validation comes from within. They simply have more productive things to do than chase the approval of their peers.
Emotional intelligence is one of the essential soft skills in life that’s incredibly important to personal and professional success but often goes overlooked and undiscussed.
In his new book Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, author Dan Schawbel talks about emotional intelligence and why it’s so critical to thriving in life. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read this spring and it made me think about what emotional intelligence means to me and how I see this portrayed in everyday life. Are you an emotionally intelligent person? Here’s how to tell.
1. You’re constantly striving to understand the human condition.
You notice everything — the way someone hesitates before they speak, the way their eyes light up when they see someone they love. You often notice all the things other people seem to miss and you seek understanding for the logic and motivation behind how people behave. You want to understand the human condition from every angle because it helps give you insight and perspective on your own life.
2. You’re inherently curious about the way other people live.
You love talking to people from varying cultures and backgrounds because you love learning about how other people live and what makes them tick. You enjoy seemingly random interactions with strangers because that’s where you can often learn the most about other people.
3. You’re self-aware about your shortcomings and strengths.
You know the things about yourself that make you not such an ideal person and you’re also aware of the things that make you really great. You know you have a bad habit of procrastinating on projects until the last minute or maybe you know you can be a bad communicator at times, but because you’re aware of these things you actively try to work on them when they come up. You also know what makes you excel in life and you’re always looking for ways to improve on those traits.
4. You place an emphasis on living in the moment rather than in the past or in the future.
You don’t believe living in the past or hoping for the future has any value here, in the now. You would rather experience what’s currently happening as deeply and fully as you can instead of reliving the memories of yesterday or the stories of promise for tomorrow. You have accepted your past for what it is and know you can no longer go back, just as you understand your future is merely a dream you like to live in to give you hope but have yet to actually experience.
5. You actively try to understand your moods and change them when they go bad.
When you get angry, sad or jealous about something you have a self-awareness about it. You experience your emotions as they’re happening with the perspective of trying to understand why exactly you’re feeling this way. You understand emotions are the way your body processes your thoughts and because of this, you attempt to alter your thoughts before spiraling emotionally out of control.
6. You confront people as issues arise instead of letting them fester within.
When an issue comes up between you and another person you would rather deal with it right away than not saying anything at all and letting it create residual problems between you.
7. Your motivations come from within yourself, not from outside influences.
You live for yourself and the motivations within. You listen to what people say — your peers, friends, parents, people in your industry — but ultimately, you’re going to seek out a life and achievements based on what drives you deep within yourself.
8. You’re always working on personal development.
You feel restless when life becomes stagnant so when you’ve hit a lull you begin to think about how to get out of it. You start considering your interests, job, friends, relationships, and how you could do things differently to improve upon these areas.
9. You genuinely enjoy listening to other people and helping them with their problems.
You have an ability to make other people feel calm and accepted in your presence. When they’re around you they feel like they can say anything and you aren’t going to judge them for what they’ve done but instead, you’ll actually listen and give constructive feedback. It’s not just one way for you though. You genuinely enjoy connecting with people, whether it’s your friends or family, or random people that talk to you, and listening to what’s going on in their life.
10. You have an empathetic nature for everyone.
When people talk to you about the struggles they’re currently experiencing, you can often feel and understand their pain, even if it’s something you haven’t personally experienced. You can imagine what it must be like for them and how this obstacle is affecting the rest of their life.
11. You’re somewhat of a social chameleon.
You change your behavior based on who you’re with. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t genuine in your personality but that you’re aware of other people’s moods and you try to match their energy level so you’re on the same wave length.
12. You listen to your intuition and let it guide you when making tough decisions.
As soon as you get that subtle hit of your intuition telling you something isn’t right you know you should listen to what your body is telling you and look a bit deeper into the situation before proceeding further.
13. You don’t have a problem saying “no thanks” if you need to.
As much as you understand other people’s desires and you want to help them out, you also understand what’s best for you and your situation. You’re not afraid of other people’s feelings and telling them no when you have to.
14. You can read people well.
You have an inherent sense about people and understand what they want or what they’re thinking without them having to say anything directly about it. Through social cues and behaviors you just get a feeling about things and know when someone is telling you something, even when they’re not saying anything at all.