9 non-obvious signs someone isn’t as smart as they think they are

Have you met someone who thinks they’re the smartest person in the room, but after you get to know them, you start questioning their intelligence?

They may appear and sound knowledgeable, but as you get to know them better, their true selves start to show – either through the things they say or do. But these behaviors are usually not that obvious.

So, if you think you know someone who fits this description, here are 9 signs to look out for.

1) Not willing to learn more.

People who think they’re smart may be resistant to learning new things. They may not be receptive to new ideas or feedback because they think they have all the knowledge they need.

Moreover, they will try to prove that they know everything

They’ll criticize differing views and try to prove that they’re very knowledgeable by sharing their extensive experience and what they’ve learnt over the years.

Sure, their experience may be impressive, but being unwilling to learn new things reflects a lack of intellectual curiosity. People who are truly knowledgeable understand that there is always something new to learn. 

There will be views that do not align with theirs, but they are willing to listen as it helps them see things in a different light. They may come across views that they may not have thought about as well.

Being willing to expand one’s world view reflects a person’s intelligence. They will not accept everything they hear, but they’re able to objectively assess information given to them and decide from there.

2) Not willing to listen to others.

Refusing to listen to others is another characteristic of people who aren’t as smart as they think they are.

They’re unwilling to listen to what others have to say, even if what the other person is saying makes sense. They may start to get defensive and may even get into arguments even though they’re clearly in the wrong. 

Eventually, when they’re proved to be incorrect, they will deflect, blame and sweep everything under the carpet. This reflects an utter lack of self-awareness.

And, this behavior will not surface immediately. Usually, it takes a while for them to reveal their true selves, and from there, it’s not difficult to see that they’re not as smart as they think they are.

By behaving this way, they also limit opportunities for self-growth – but it’s not as if they’re keen on pursuing this anyway.

This may stem from their habit of…

3) Being overconfident

They believe that everything they do is correct. 

Sure, they may have had some experience and understanding on a particular topic. 

But as you continue to get to know them, you’ll gradually find out that their abilities are grossly overestimated. And this will show in the things that they say, or when they need to complete certain tasks.

People who are intelligent have a good understanding of their strengths and limitations. They’re humble and know when to ask questions if they need help. 

By being overly confident, these individuals are setting themselves up for failure. Not only do they not accept their limits, but they also refuse to seek help from others.

4) Not flexible

pic1330 9 non-obvious signs someone isn’t as smart as they think they are

Another sign to look out for is rigidness in thinking

The world hardly operates in black and white. Sometimes, imagination and a bit of flexibility are required to complete certain projects. 

Moreover, as the world continues to evolve, it’s impossible to carry on with the same way of doing things.

We see this happening when large, successful companies refuse to change the way their processes, even as consumer habits and trends shift. 

While there may be many factors that contribute to this, a key reason would be the management’s refusal to change their processes – until it’s too late.

You may see this behavior happening with the people you’re working with. 

And this is a clear sign that they’re not as smart as they think they are.

5) Unable to explain difficult concepts in a simple manner.

To test out how much I’ve understood after learning something new, I try explaining it to those who are unfamiliar with the topic.

This allows me to review what I’ve learnt and express it in simpler terms, forcing me to break down abstract concepts. 

While there may be some concepts that require you to have prior knowledge, I’m referring to those that are not too niche.

Breaking down large concepts is a skill that isn’t easy to learn. Someone who has a holistic understanding of something should be able to do so because they can approach the subject at different angles. 

They’re able to explain things in detail while appreciating the bigger picture as well.

If someone you know is unable to do this, it shows that they may have a limited understanding of what they’ve learnt.

6) Having poor judgement

If someone doesn’t seem to make the right decisions consistently, it could mean that they have a poor sense of judgement.

They may be unable to consider the consequences of their actions and other factors that come into play. 

Perhaps they’re narrow minded when it comes to making decisions and aren’t able to see beyond present circumstances.

This reflects a person’s lack of practical intelligence. However, this will only show after interacting with them for a longer period of time.

7) Lack of curiosity

People who lack curiosity are essentially saying that they’re disinterested in knowing or learning more.

They’re contented with the facts they’re presented with and never question anything.

They seem to just accept everything that they’ve read or whatever people tell them. It not only indicates a lack of interest in expanding one’s horizons, but it also reflects a person’s lack of critical thinking.

Intelligent people understand that the key to gaining more knowledge is to ask why. 

8) Unable to apply concepts learnt but are only good at rote memorization.

Having a good memory is important. It helps us recall important concepts that can greatly assist us when we need to complete tasks at school or at work.

But an overreliance on this reflects a person’s inability to think critically. They may not even know how to apply knowledge to new and unfamiliar situations.

People who are truly intelligent are flexible thinkers who can analyze any given problem and adapt concepts to solve the issues at hand. 

9) Inconsistent performance

Try observing your coworker or asking your friend how they’re doing at work. If their performance across a certain period has not been consistent, they may not be as smart as they think they are.

This may indicate that they’re not cut out for their role or that they’re unable to deliver what they’re supposed to. Sometimes, they may be doing the same project over and over again, but the results are always lackluster.

If you meet someone who claims that they’re highly intelligent, sit back and observe their performance over time.

Eventually, you can determine if they’re really as smart as they say they are.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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