It’s good to be smart, but intelligence is a difficult thing to pin down. In many cases, how smart people think you are is just as important as your intelligence.
“I’m not just using all the brain I have, but whatever I can borrow.” -Woodrow Wilson
It turns out that intelligence only explains about 20% of what you do for a living; much of the remaining 80% boils down to emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is such an important skill that 90% of top-performing people in the workplace have high EQ, as measured by an emotional intelligence test, and people with high EQ earn $ 28,000 more per years than those with low QE (by TalentSmart).
The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which involves not only knowing how you are, but also how others perceive you. People with high emotional intelligence are masters of influence: they are adept at modifying their behavior to make the most of a given situation.
You may not be able to change your genetics, but there are some proven strategies that can help you appear smarter. Some of these strategies seem arbitrary, but research shows they make a huge difference. This makes this information useful, especially when you need to influence someone in your way of thinking.
1. Skip this drink. And it’s not just because people tend to mess things up when they’ve been drinking. A joint study by the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania found that just seeing someone holding a drink is enough to make them appear less intelligent. It’s not that we assume that less intelligent people are more likely to drink; is that the perceived correlation between alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment is so strong that we assume impairment even if there is not. For example, while job applicants often think ordering a glass of wine during a dinner interview will make them appear smart and worldly, it actually makes them come across as less smart and less hired. There’s even a name for it: “Silly Soaking Bias.”
2. Use a middle initial. John F. Kennedy. Franklin D. Roosevelt. It turns out that there might be a reason why so many people who hold a prominent place in history have used an intermediate initial. Not only does using an intermediate initial improve your perceived social status, it also raises expectations for intelligence capacity and performance. In one study, participants were asked to read and rate Einstein’s essay on the theory of relativity, with authorship attributed to David Clark, David F. Clark, David FP Clark, or David FPR Clark. Not only did David F. Clark score higher than David Clark, David FPR Clark outperformed them all. In another study, participants were asked to choose team members. For academic competitions, people who used intermediate initials were selected more frequently than those who did not. (It was a pretty different story for athletic competitions.) So if you want a quick IQ boost, start using that middle initial.
3. Make graphics. Research at Cornell suggests that people are more likely to trust a source if it contains graphics. In one of the Cornell studies, participants read a paper about the effectiveness of a new cold medicine. One report contained a graph; the other no. Other than that, they were exactly the same. Yet 96% of participants who read the report with a graphic believed the claims, while only 67% of those who read the document without a graphic thought the same. So the next time you create a document, stick to a chart. It doesn’t have to be complex; it just needs to be precise.
4. Believe in yourself. Nothing projects intelligence like confidence. When you believe in yourself it shows, and research shows that believing in yourself improves your performance in cognitive tasks. Self-doubt, on the other hand, hurts your performance. The worst part is that other people pick up on this doubt, which makes you seem less intelligent in their eyes. If you want people to believe in you, you have to believe in yourself.
5. Simply write. If you are really smart you shouldn’t have to use bad words to spread it. True intelligence speaks for itself, so you don’t have to show off your awesome vocabulary. In addition, you always run the risk of making mistakes. Using a bad word makes you sound, well, not that smart. So if you want to appear smarter, stop studying the dictionary and just focus on effective communication.
6. Speak expressively. Communication expert Leonard Mlodinow argues that even if two people say the exact same thing, the one who says it the most expressively will be seen to be the smarter. “If two speakers say exactly the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and a greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable and intelligent,” said Mlodinow said. If you want to appear smarter, modulate your speech by varying your pitch, volume, speed, and energy level.
7. Look them in the eye. We know we’re supposed to do it anyway, that’s good manners, right? It’s true, but it also makes you smarter. In a study conducted at Loyola University, participants who intentionally managed their eye contact scored significantly higher on perceived intelligence.
8. Wear nerd glasses. Did your mom ever tell you to be nice to nerds, because you’ll probably work for them someday? As usual, Mom was on to something. Research shows that people who wear glasses, especially thick, full-rimmed glasses, are perceived to be smarter. So if you want to look smarter (when giving a presentation, maybe?), Leave the lenses at home and wear your glasses.
9. Follow the rhythm of the crowd. I mean this one literally. I know it might sound silly, but research at Boston University shows it to be true. This is called the “timescale bias” and it refers to our tendency to attribute greater intelligence – based on mental attributes like consciousness, awareness and intention – to people. who do things at about the same speed as everyone else. If you want to look smarter, you have to stop loitering, but you also have to stop rushing like crazy robot.
10. Dress for success. This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Extensive research shows that the way you dress affects the way people see you. Dressing well makes you look smarter, and showing off your skin makes you look less intelligent, as it draws people’s attention to your body rather than your mind. But did you know that the way you dress also affects your performance? A recent study from Northwestern University found that forcing people to wear lab coats improved their performance in tasks that required intelligence and focus.
Put it all together
Intelligence (IQ) is fixed from an early age. You may not be able to change your IQ, but you can definitely change the way people see you. When it comes to being successful in the real world, perception is half the battle.
What are the other things that make people seem smart? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I am learning as much from you as I am from me.