How to be intelligent

By Daniel Goleman

  • April 7, 2015

How to be intelligent

What makes a great leader? Knowledge, smarts and vision, to be sure. To that, Daniel Goleman, author of “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence,” would add the ability to identify and monitor emotions — your own and others’ — and to manage relationships. Qualities associated with such “emotional intelligence” distinguish the best leaders in the corporate world, according to Mr. Goleman, a former New York Times science reporter, a psychologist and co-director of a consortium at Rutgers University to foster research on the role emotional intelligence plays in excellence. He shares his short list of the competencies.

Realistic self-confidence: You understand your own strengths and limitations; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else on the team.

Emotional insight: You understand your feelings. Being aware of what makes you angry, for instance, can help you manage that anger.

Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You don’t brood or panic. In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too.

Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check — instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what’s wrong and what the solution is.

Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.

Cognitive and emotional empathy: Because you understand other perspectives, you can put things in ways colleagues comprehend. And you welcome their questions, just to be sure. Cognitive empathy, along with reading another person’s feelings accurately, makes for effective communication.

Good listening: You pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying, without talking over them or hijacking the agenda.

4. RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

Compelling communication: You put your points in persuasive, clear ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations.

Team playing: People feel relaxed working with you. One sign: They laugh easily around you.

How to be intelligent

You don’t really need to have a high IQ in order to be considered a highly intelligent person. In fact, there’s a lot more to being smart than knowing a bunch of facts or being good at science and math. According to experts, many highly intelligent people don’t even realize how intelligent they really are.

“A highly intelligent person is one who is flexible in their thinking and can adapt to changes, they think before they speak or act, and they’re able to effectively manage their emotions.,” Dr. Catherine Jackson, licensed clinical psychologist and board certified neurotherapist, tells Bustle. “In short, they possess several different types of intelligence, including but not limited to intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence.”

Researchers have looked into the many different traits highly intelligent people have in common. For instance, a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Psychology, found that highly intelligent people actually prefer to be alone. It was found that smarter people tend to experience lower life satisfaction the more often they socialize with friends. According to evolutionary psychology, people evolved to be intelligent in order to solve problems. So those who are happier being alone were seen as highly intelligent because they have the ability to solve problems on their own without needing any help.

Rest assured, if you’re a social butterfly, it doesn’t mean that you’re not smart. You may possess other qualities that show off your intelligence, like having the ability to easily connect with others.

According to Jackson, highly intelligent people don’t often think of themselves like that. So here are some signs you’re highly intelligent, even if you don’t feel like it.

You’re Empathetic And Compassionate

“There’s a correlation between high emotional intelligence and high IQ in psychological assessments,” Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. “We know that the higher a person scores in traits of empathy, the higher the person will score in traits of effective verbal comprehension.” In other words, empathy, which is part of emotional intelligence, and comprehension, which is part of cognitive intelligence, is directly linked. So if you lead with your heart, Scott-Hudson says, there’s a good chance that you also lead with your mind.

You’re Curious About The World

It’s easy to assume that highly intelligent people like to read. But being smart is not about having the ability to go through a number of books a day. It’s about having a curiosity about anything and everything. “Intelligent people engage their passions and ask questions like who, what, when, where, how, why, and what if,” Scott-Hudson says. They like learning about other people, cultures, animals, history, and the world at large. While having a love of reading isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence, it does show that you like learning and you’re curious.

If you want to know to be truly smart, not just appear so, you can learn a lot from the way genuinely intelligent people act and think. This article reveals the things truly smart people do.

Albert Einstein said that “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid“. And I totally agree with him because each one of has qualities that make us unique. But if you want to be smart in the genuine sense of it, it might be wise to look at some things intelligent people do.

Genuinely intelligent people share similar traits and why not learn from them how to be smart?

Learn a bit about everything

There are people who might be talking about a particular subject from the morning until the evening. But this does not necessarily make them smart. We could say that they are well-informed.

Instead, smart people can carry a lot of conversation on various topics (from cocktails to global financial development) and successfully debate them all.

In addition, they also express their own opinions, not just what they read in books or heard from others. Thus, they critically analyze and create their own perspective on a matter.

Similarly, if you want to be genuinely smart, try to enrich your knowledge by learning more. You will be amazed by the great things you will find out not only about the world around you but also about yourself.

Talk less

Smart people do not talk a lot, they know listening is just as important as expressing the ideas. They do not feel the need to prove that they know nor they want to stand out. Not because they are shy or careless, but they consider that certain discussions are not worth the fight.

On the other hand, they allow other people to fully express themselves. This is because they firmly believe that everyone has the right to share their opinion.

If you are a talkative person, learn to control your urge of talking more than the other person. Remember that s/he also has an opinion that must be heard and validated. This way, not only do you develop respect and empathy towards others, but you also become smarter in the genuine sense of it.

Self-Taught

Whether they have access to a higher education or not, intelligent people always strive to learn from their mistakes. They analyze every aspect of their behaviour or actions and that is because they believe that there is always room for improvement.

Although you may think you have it all, it would be great having a second look. We have something to change and learn about ourselves every day and you can always sharpen your skills.

Do not believe everything you hear

Not many people question what they are being told, but only those who have the ability to see behind the packaging. Intelligent people sense manipulation, lies and disinformation. Moreover, they are able to block them or demote them, taking the right attitude according to the case.

It does not mean that you should argue or mistrust everyone. But before accepting something as the complete truth, do some research, ask yourself some questions and come up with your own opinion.

Have fun

Intelligent people know what makes them happy and they try to make them part of their daily lives. So they turn hard work into pleasure, they take breaks to enjoy the simple things.

Think first, then act

This kind of people has the ability to master their emotions. Self-control is one of their defining features. They do not react without thinking about everything in detail. Even though they are aware of the fact that emotions are very strong, they manage to keep them under control when needed.

Thus, do not let emotions take the best out of you. Get to learn about them instead and see how they can benefit you.

Do not respect the rules all the time, only when necessary

We already know that intelligent people are creative and have brilliant ideas.They do not always follow the rules and go beyond them when their dreams are great. They disagree when their lives are governed by certain individuals who are intellectually limited and have the courage to rise above everything and everyone.

At the same time, intelligent people know that rules are the key to a healthy society. So they are more than happy to follow them when these promote growth and safety.

Be curious

Speaking of learning, intelligent people know that they do not know enough. So any new study or information will attract their attention. This curiosity is not only about the desire of knowing more about medicine or technology but also about the people that surround them.

No matter if they are introverted or extroverted, people with high emotional intelligence are curious about the people around them. This curiosity is the result of a high degree of empathy, one of the basic features of those with a high EQ and IQ. The more you care about those around you, the more you want to find out about them.

I strongly believe that all our readers identify themselves with these traits and hope that this article has helped them gain understanding of what it means to be genuinely smart and not just appear so. As such, we would be grateful if you could share how your intelligence helped you in difficult or embarrassing situations.

How to be intelligent

You can throw a stone in any direction and hit someone who is over-confident and thinks they’re smarter than they really are. But even more common are people who don’t realize they’re actually smarter than they think.

Is that you? Here are nine science-backed signs that you’re not giving yourself enough IQ credit.

1. You’re creative.

Dr. Katie Davis, a clinical neuropsychologist, told Business Insider that creativity is a definitive sign of intelligence because it requires thinking flexibly/outside the box and necessitates the ability to shift and change your patterns of thinking from one way to another.

I’ve worked with many ad agency creatives–they’re some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Their ability to take an insight and translate it into a message that illuminated my brand’s benefits in a compelling, memorable way is a task few merely “book smart” people could do. I often walked away after a brilliant ad campaign presentation thinking, “Their brain just works differently.” Creativity is its own brand of smart.

2. You’re messy.

Kathleen Vohs from the University of Minnesota says the messier you are, the smarter you are. A study Vohs published in Psychological Science featured two groups asked to devise creative uses for Ping-Pong balls. One group worked in a messy, cluttered environment while the other worked in a tidy setting. The messy group brainstormed substantially more creative and interesting ideas.

So before berating yourself for your perpetually cluttered desk, give yourself a few IQ points instead.

3. You’re curious.

If you love to learn, the more you’ll learn and the smarter you’ll get. Science backs this up. A study from Goldsmiths University of London found that “how people invest their time and effort in their intellect” (i.e. feeding their curiosity) plays a huge role in cognitive growth.

But it’s not just learning more that makes you smarter, it’s wanting to learn more, which is a trait common in intelligent people. A study in the Journal of Individual Differences showed a correlation between people who scored high on IQ tests as a child and adults that were more curious and open to new ideas.

Psychology research from Georgia Tech also showed that those with high curiosity are more tolerant of ambiguity, which requires a sophisticated thinking style.

4. You talk to yourself.

No, it’s not a sign you’re crazy–just the opposite. A study from psychologists Paloma Mari-Beffa and Alexander Kirkham of Bangor University showed that talking out loud to yourself improves self-control, an important form of intelligence. They gave study participants a set of tasks and accompanying written instructions, asking them to read the instructions silently or out loud. Measured concentration and performance from those who read out loud was far better.

Talking out loud nets control, which is why so many professional athletes talk to themselves out loud during games. Which brings us to the next sign.

5. You have high self-control.

Whether you exercise self-control by talking to yourself out loud or just by willing it, it’s an overlooked sign of intelligence. A 2009 psychology study from Yale University gave participants IQ tests and offered them reward money they could receive immediately or later (for a higher amount). Those choosing to wait also had higher IQ scores, indicating that resisting making impulsive decisions and carefully weighing options correlates with intelligence.

6. You’re good with being by yourself.

If you like your own company and aren’t constantly in need of being around others, that’s a sign of intelligence. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology showed a correlation between contentedness with being alone and intelligence. I use alone time to think, prioritize, and plan, which reinforces self-control (sign No. 5).

7. You’re funny.

A 2011 University of New Mexico psychology study found that professional comedians and people who wrote funnier cartoon captions scored higher on verbal intelligence. This adds up, as some of the smartest people I know have a razor-sharp wit and sense of humor.

8. You’re open-minded.

A 2008 Yale University psychology study showed highly intelligent people tend to stay open-minded to others’ points of view, not formulating their own until hearing multiple voices. This doesn’t mean they’re fickle, though, as the study also showed open-minded people are more likely to be confident about their opinion once formed and less likely to be manipulated.

9. You’re not convinced you’re particularly smart.

Psychologists discovered the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says that people who are less competent or bright consistently overestimate their mental abilities while intelligent people are far more aware of their limitations.

And knowing your limitations means you’re more likely to surround yourself with people to offset your limitations. It also makes you hungrier to learn more, which makes you smarter (sign No. 3). As Shakespeare said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

How to be intelligent

When it comes to defining intelligence, one can argue that it can mean different things. Some people are more emotionally intelligent, some are more verbally, while others possess a high amount of logical-mathematical intelligence.

And while all these different types of people can be highly intelligent, there are some traits that all highly intelligent people have in common, according to researchers.

Here are 11 of them.

1. THEY ARE INSATIABLY CURIOUS

Albert Einstein once reportedly said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”

Intelligent people are always fascinated by ordinary things, that others can’t even see or take them for granted.

One 2016 research found a link between childhood intelligence and adulthood curiosity and openness to different experiences. Namely, scientists who were following thousands of UK born people for 50 years, discovered that 11-year-olds who scored better at their IQ tests were more open to experience at an age of 50.

2. THEY ARE HIGHLY ADAPTABLE

All highly intelligent people are flexible, and they can easily get accustomed to any situation or a change of scenery. They are always able to act and get things done regardless of the restrictions or complications that are placed upon them.

Being intelligent means being able to mold yourself and change your behavior to deal more effectively or make changes in your environment.

3. THEY HAVE HIGH SELF-CONTROL

It takes a highly intelligent person to overcome impulsiveness and instead to plan, clarify their goals, find alternative solutions, and consider all the consequences before they happen.

Moreover, scientists have also found a connection between intelligence and self-control. Those participants who were more in control of themselves scored better on intelligence tests.

4. THEY LIKE THEIR OWN COMPANY

Hand in hand with high intelligence goes a great need for solitude. All intelligent people are highly individualistic.

Moreover, according to one research highly intelligent people don’t get as much satisfaction from socializing with friends as others do.

5. THEY ARE REALLY FUNNY

All highly intelligent people have an excellent sense of humor.

How to be intelligent

When it comes to defining intelligence, one can argue that it can mean different things. Some people are more emotionally intelligent, some are more verbally, while others possess a high amount of logical-mathematical intelligence.

And while all these different types of people can be highly intelligent, there are some traits that all highly intelligent people have in common, according to researchers.

Here are 11 of them.

1. THEY ARE INSATIABLY CURIOUS

Albert Einstein once reportedly said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”

Intelligent people are always fascinated by ordinary things, that others can’t even see or take them for granted.

One 2016 research found a link between childhood intelligence and adulthood curiosity and openness to different experiences. Namely, scientists who were following thousands of UK born people for 50 years, discovered that 11-year-olds who scored better at their IQ tests were more open to experience at an age of 50.

2. THEY ARE HIGHLY ADAPTABLE

All highly intelligent people are flexible, and they can easily get accustomed to any situation or a change of scenery. They are always able to act and get things done regardless of the restrictions or complications that are placed upon them.

Being intelligent means being able to mold yourself and change your behavior to deal more effectively or make changes in your environment.

3. THEY HAVE HIGH SELF-CONTROL

It takes a highly intelligent person to overcome impulsiveness and instead to plan, clarify their goals, find alternative solutions, and consider all the consequences before they happen.

Moreover, scientists have also found a connection between intelligence and self-control. Those participants who were more in control of themselves scored better on intelligence tests.

4. THEY LIKE THEIR OWN COMPANY

Hand in hand with high intelligence goes a great need for solitude. All intelligent people are highly individualistic.

Moreover, according to one research highly intelligent people don’t get as much satisfaction from socializing with friends as others do.

5. THEY ARE REALLY FUNNY

All highly intelligent people have an excellent sense of humor.

How to be intelligent

You can throw a stone in any direction and hit someone who is over-confident and thinks they’re smarter than they really are. But even more common are people who don’t realize they’re actually smarter than they think.

Is that you? Here are nine science-backed signs that you’re not giving yourself enough IQ credit.

1. You’re creative.

Dr. Katie Davis, a clinical neuropsychologist, told Business Insider that creativity is a definitive sign of intelligence because it requires thinking flexibly/outside the box and necessitates the ability to shift and change your patterns of thinking from one way to another.

I’ve worked with many ad agency creatives–they’re some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Their ability to take an insight and translate it into a message that illuminated my brand’s benefits in a compelling, memorable way is a task few merely “book smart” people could do. I often walked away after a brilliant ad campaign presentation thinking, “Their brain just works differently.” Creativity is its own brand of smart.

2. You’re messy.

Kathleen Vohs from the University of Minnesota says the messier you are, the smarter you are. A study Vohs published in Psychological Science featured two groups asked to devise creative uses for Ping-Pong balls. One group worked in a messy, cluttered environment while the other worked in a tidy setting. The messy group brainstormed substantially more creative and interesting ideas.

So before berating yourself for your perpetually cluttered desk, give yourself a few IQ points instead.

3. You’re curious.

If you love to learn, the more you’ll learn and the smarter you’ll get. Science backs this up. A study from Goldsmiths University of London found that “how people invest their time and effort in their intellect” (i.e. feeding their curiosity) plays a huge role in cognitive growth.

But it’s not just learning more that makes you smarter, it’s wanting to learn more, which is a trait common in intelligent people. A study in the Journal of Individual Differences showed a correlation between people who scored high on IQ tests as a child and adults that were more curious and open to new ideas.

Psychology research from Georgia Tech also showed that those with high curiosity are more tolerant of ambiguity, which requires a sophisticated thinking style.

4. You talk to yourself.

No, it’s not a sign you’re crazy–just the opposite. A study from psychologists Paloma Mari-Beffa and Alexander Kirkham of Bangor University showed that talking out loud to yourself improves self-control, an important form of intelligence. They gave study participants a set of tasks and accompanying written instructions, asking them to read the instructions silently or out loud. Measured concentration and performance from those who read out loud was far better.

Talking out loud nets control, which is why so many professional athletes talk to themselves out loud during games. Which brings us to the next sign.

5. You have high self-control.

Whether you exercise self-control by talking to yourself out loud or just by willing it, it’s an overlooked sign of intelligence. A 2009 psychology study from Yale University gave participants IQ tests and offered them reward money they could receive immediately or later (for a higher amount). Those choosing to wait also had higher IQ scores, indicating that resisting making impulsive decisions and carefully weighing options correlates with intelligence.

6. You’re good with being by yourself.

If you like your own company and aren’t constantly in need of being around others, that’s a sign of intelligence. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology showed a correlation between contentedness with being alone and intelligence. I use alone time to think, prioritize, and plan, which reinforces self-control (sign No. 5).

7. You’re funny.

A 2011 University of New Mexico psychology study found that professional comedians and people who wrote funnier cartoon captions scored higher on verbal intelligence. This adds up, as some of the smartest people I know have a razor-sharp wit and sense of humor.

8. You’re open-minded.

A 2008 Yale University psychology study showed highly intelligent people tend to stay open-minded to others’ points of view, not formulating their own until hearing multiple voices. This doesn’t mean they’re fickle, though, as the study also showed open-minded people are more likely to be confident about their opinion once formed and less likely to be manipulated.

9. You’re not convinced you’re particularly smart.

Psychologists discovered the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says that people who are less competent or bright consistently overestimate their mental abilities while intelligent people are far more aware of their limitations.

And knowing your limitations means you’re more likely to surround yourself with people to offset your limitations. It also makes you hungrier to learn more, which makes you smarter (sign No. 3). As Shakespeare said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

There is a common argument against technology as many believe that it’s making society dumber, more dependent, and even less human. However, if we take a close look at how we interact with the internet and various devices, we realize that technology may actually bring us a lot of benefits. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that it can even have certain long-term benefits for your health.

Although we are told that the age of the internet is making us less intelligent, let’s broaden our minds and examine all the ways that technology is contributing to society.

Access to a world of information

It’s truly hard to imagine a world without the internet, and answers to all our questions at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen. Nowadays, everything we could ever want to know is accessible in a matter of seconds. Some people see this as a negative feature of technology as a person is less likely to delve into certain subject matters if he or she can attain information quickly. But the impact of Google and other online tools can actually cause society to be naturally curious.

Just think about it – with the internet we are more informed than we have ever been. How can search engines be decreasing our intelligence if we utilize them to gain valuable knowledge on specific topics that interest us? Although this specific topic is quite controversial, it may help to examine it through the lens of your own personal life. Has the internet caused you to gain knowledge or retreat backward? Chances are, if used in moderation, you will not experience the negative effects of the internet or huge resources like Google.

Online activities have real health benefits

Innovations in technology have also paved the way for activities online to be more appealing than ever before. Nowadays, entire communities of digital gamers can have some of the best gameplay experiences across the internet.

Their popularity lies in their accessibility, with a variety of options for PCs and smartphones that welcome users from many different locations. In fact, 2021 statistics show an estimated 2.7 billion gamers are actively engaging in online play throughout the world.

You may be thinking – what health benefits can you get from so much time spent in front of bright screens? Well, a large majority of gamers are regularly opting for strategy, trivia, and board games online which have been proven to boost memory, improve cognitive skills, reduce the risk of dementia, and even relieve stress.

Surprisingly, your brain is actually becoming healthier as it crunches through one of poker’s exhilarating variants on leading platforms like PokerStars or dissects Shogi on 81dojo, a Japanese form of chess, against another real-life user. Strategic activities like these exercise various regions of the brain and even strengthen neurotransmitter pathways, leading to heightened decision-making skills and logical thinking.

Games that require you to hone in and pay attention are special in today’s world. While some people may argue that technology distracts us, these types of activities actually train people to be more patient and mindful. In older participants, games like chess and sudoku, among others, can help fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s. Playing these games in a consistent manner over time will not completely eradicate the illness, but it can surely promote cell growth, functioning, and memory.

Online play can also foster social interaction and connect you with people in ways you have never imagined. Whether it’s through a multi-player tournament or discussion forum, a strong feeling of community is created amongst fellow gamers. This sense of belonging is vital for one’s overall mental health, creating happiness and feelings of support in the process.

Digital learning enhances the education process

eLearning has proven to be hugely beneficial to the overall education experience, with many schools and institutions utilizing its features worldwide. Because students are equally excited about using technology in the learning process, they are more motivated to work hard and study. This creates greater productivity and interest in various subjects.

Aside from its popularity amongst pupils, learning with technology like tablets and laptops can be great for students who are not able to take notes and keep up in traditional classroom settings. Unique tools like Prezi’s have been proven to enhance learning through the digital sphere with the use of fun lesson plans and visual presentations. These are great resources as students may access them from any time and place on the internet, outside the class. In this way, self-guided instruction is put in place and becomes hugely beneficial for a variety of learners.

Another factor that many people don’t realize about eLearning is that it is also friendly to the environment. Just think about how much paper is wasted each and every school year. With digital instruction, everything is stored online and easily accessible. Not only is learning with technology benefiting students around the world, but it is also teaching them to be better friends of our precious planet.

Technology allows humans to acquire new skillsets

Think for just a moment about how many new skills humans have been able to acquire thanks to technology. Whether it’s something simple like finding a location in Google maps or a more complex skill like designing a landing page for a website, technology, and the internet has given people a chance to unlock potentially new gifts in a variety of subjects. In this way, our brains have been forced to adapt to the digital era, growing and expanding in the process.

Just take social media for example. Thousands of jobs have been born out of something that was only recently invented. Many of these professions require talent in written communication, photography, coding, development, and much more. As technology continues to evolve, our minds are likely to grow and change with the times, and since growth can rarely be seen as something negative, society is continuing to take advantage of new possibilities.