What are the signs of intelligence in everyday conversation?

Are you curious about how to spot intelligent people in everyday conversations?

Well, considering that intelligence is a multi-faceted trait that can manifest in many ways, it’s not quite easy to conclude that someone is intelligent after having a single dialogue with them.

Still, it turns out that you can tell a lot about the level of their intelligence through their communication skills. 

From vocabulary choice to critical thinking, certain signs indicate a person is intelligent during a conversation. 

Let’s uncover 9 tell-tale signs of intelligence in everyday conversations that will help you identify the smartest people in any room.

9 signs of intelligence in everyday conversation

1) Being able to manage emotions

You know what’s the one thing I’ve noticed about really intelligent people in regular conversations?

They don’t let their emotions take over and cloud their judgment. 

For example, they’re able to stay calm and level-headed in a heated debate, and they’re able to control their temper when someone says something they disagree with. 

Sounds incredible, right?

For me, as a person who struggles to handle impulses whenever something isn’t right, being able to manage emotions in everyday conversation really does seem like a sign of intelligence.

The most impressive part is that these intelligent people can separate their emotions from the conversation and still participate in meaningful dialogue. 

It’s no wonder if this makes for a much more productive and respectful conversation.

Now you might be wondering how the ability to manage emotions is related to intelligence.

Well, if you understand the concept of emotional intelligence, chances are that the link between emotions and intelligence is clear to you.

The truth is that emotional intelligence is often linked with cognitive wisdom and reason in scientific studies. For instance, according to Sarah Steimer from the University of Chicago, competencies in emotion management such as the ability to accept diverse perspectives, recognition of an ever-changing world, or self-transcendence are related to wise reasoning.

Considering this, you probably won’t be surprised by the fact that individuals who have high emotional intelligence are typically better able to navigate social interactions, build relationships, and resolve conflicts. 

They are also better able to manage their own emotions, which allows them to think more clearly and make better decisions. 

This is why the ability to manage emotions is considered a sign of intelligence in everyday conversation.

2) Observing and remembering details from the conversation

Ever noticed that some people always seem to remember the little things you mention in conversation?

Like, you might tell them about a trip you took a year ago, and then the next time you see them, they’ll bring it up and ask you how it went. 

That’s exactly what happened to me. There were a few times when I didn’t even pay attention to whatever I randomly mentioned, and when a person I was speaking to brought up the topic of my trip, I almost thought that they were stalking me or something.

Of course, I was exaggerating. In fact, observing small details in a conversation is a sign of intelligence, specifically in the area of attention to detail. 

Intelligent people tend to be good observers, and they pay attention to the details in a conversation. 

They don’t just hear words; they listen to and understand the meaning behind them, and they remember details that might seem insignificant to others. 

This ability allows them to connect ideas and bring up past conversations on a deeper level, which can make their conversation interesting, and make them appear intelligent.

I have to admit that the fact that someone remembers small details you’ve randomly mentioned is emotionally satisfying. It makes you feel like you’re being heard, and whatever you say actually impacts the other person.

And you know what?

It turns out that active listening and being able to remember details are keys to successful relationships. According to Scientific American, if you or your partner have a good memory, chances are that you’ll resolve disagreements much more easily.

This also indicates that you or your partner use intelligence in order to take care of disagreements in your relationship. 

The simple truth is that being able to observe and remember details from a conversation is a sign of intelligence. It demonstrates a high level of attention to detail, which is a key component of critical thinking.

People with high attention to detail tend to be better problem solvers and decision-makers since they can pick up on important information that others might miss. 

And by remembering details from past conversations, intelligent people can build deeper connections with others and bring up past conversations to new levels.

That’s why people with high levels of intelligence are likely to have more productive and engaging conversations. It’s not about their wisdom or their knowledge but simply about their attention to detail.

3) Confidence without being arrogant

Did you know that confidence is one of the basic signs of intelligence in everyday conversation?

However, intelligence isn’t about being confident and arrogant at the same time. While intelligent people are most likely self-assured, they don’t let their confidence turn into arrogance. 

This means they’re able to admit when they’re wrong and consider others’ points of view.

But how does confidence represent intelligence? Can’t you be intelligent without being confident?

Of course, it’s possible to be intelligent and not confident. However, in order to be able to speak up, express your ideas and opinions, and engage in discussions in a way that is clear and direct, it’s important to be confident.

Still, just being confident is not enough.

As a matter of fact, in regular conversations, we often mistake confidence for arrogance. The reason is that arrogant people also speak loudly and assertively. But you know what?

They lack the ability to truly listen to others or consider other perspectives. They simply can’t look at things from other people’s perspectives. And this doesn’t really represent intelligence, does it?

On the other hand, intelligent people are self-assured, but they have enough humility to admit they were wrong and consider others’ viewpoints.

That’s why I believe that the ability to be confident without being arrogant is a sign of intelligence.

It goes without saying that people with this trait tend to be more effective communicators, better collaborators, and better leaders. 

They can express themselves clearly, are respected by others, and are able to find common ground with others, regardless of their background or perspective.

So, if someone is confident in everyday conversation but manages to maintain humility instead of being arrogant, think of them as intelligent people with great communication skills.

4) Being open-minded

Let’s be honest.

Whenever someone suggests a completely new idea from what you’ve thought before, are you willing to change your perspective or do you stick to your idea?

If you’re usually resistant to change, chances are that you aren’t really being intelligent in your everyday conversations.

I won’t be afraid to admit that I always struggled with taking on others’ perspectives, especially when I was convinced I was right. But one occasion made me reconsider my patterns of thinking in conversation. That’s how I realized I wasn’t so open-minded in conversations after all.

During a class discussion during my BA studies, my lecturer in forensic psychology presented a new approach to solving a problem that was different from what I was used to. 

Although initially skeptical, his authority made me decide to listen to the explanation and ask questions for clarification. 

By considering the new perspective, I was finally able to identify the advantages and suggestions for improvements, and I acknowledged his idea.  

That’s how I impressed my lecturer and classmates with my open-mindedness and critical thinking without even realizing I was doing so.

After reflecting on this situation, I realized that being open-minded is one of the signs of intelligence in conversation.

The truth is that intelligent people never hesitate to consider new ideas and perspectives. Besides, they’re not too quick to dismiss something just because it’s different from what they’re used to.

One thing that helps intelligent people be more open-minded is their tendency for creativity. In fact, according to research, open-minded individuals see the world differently and tend to be more creative and innovative, as they’re more likely to be exposed to new ideas and to think outside the box.

So, if a person you’re talking to is open-minded, they’re more likely to consider all sides of an argument rather than just accepting their own point of view. 

5) Holding meaningful conversations on a diverse range of subjects

Let me ask you a question.

Whenever you have to switch between discussing different topics, do you still manage to maintain a meaningful conversation?

Well, that’s something intelligent people usually do during regular conversations. They enjoy discussing different subjects at a deeper level, sharing their perspectives, and learning from others.

How do they manage to do so?

The thing is that they have a diverse knowledge base, and it’s nothing complicated for them to keep the conversation engaging and thought-provoking.

confident What are the signs of intelligence in everyday conversation?

Those people tend to be well-informed and curious, which leads them to have a wide range of interests and knowledge. The result?

They can speak on diverse subjects with confidence, share their perspectives, and learn from others. 

No wonder why they enjoy discussing different subjects even in meaningful conversations with their loved ones.

This means that if someone manages to discuss several topics at a time with you and still maintain a valuable conversation, they’re likely to have a high level of intelligence and critical thinking abilities.

6) Critical thinking and problem-solving

Speaking of critical thinking, you probably can’t imagine someone being intelligent and not being able to think critically. 

In fact, scientific studies often equate intelligence to critical thinking and even state that critical thinking is a vital aspect of solving real-world problems. 

But what does it mean to think critically and how does it differ from being intelligent?

Well, to think critically means to approach information, arguments, and problems logically and systematically. 

It involves evaluating evidence, considering different perspectives, and making informed decisions. 

In simple words, critical thinking is the ability to analyze information, identify assumptions, and evaluate arguments in order to make sound judgments.

On the other hand, intelligence refers to a wide range of cognitive abilities, including memory, learning, and problem-solving.

While it’s close to intelligence, critical thinking is a skill that is separate but related to intelligence. 

This means that a person can be intelligent but not necessarily be a good critical thinker, and vice versa. 

Either way, being able to think critically and use your problem-solving skills in everyday conversations is a sign of intelligence.

In a conversation, you can spot someone who is able to think critically by their ability to ask relevant questions, consider multiple perspectives, and make well-supported arguments. 

If a person you’re speaking to is able to identify the root causes of problems and come up with innovative solutions, they’re likely to be intelligent.

7) Being empathetic

If you’re aware of the never-ending discussion about emotion vs. reason when making decisions, I bet that you’ll be surprised to learn that being empathetic is another sign of intelligence in everyday conversation.

Yes, believe it or not, whether you support making decisions based on your feelings or using pure judgment if you try to understand and share the feelings of others while talking to them, then it means that you’re intelligent.

Now you might be wondering what it means to be empathetic in conversations at all.

Well, being empathetic in conversation means that you can appreciate the perspective and feelings of the person you are communicating with. 

It means that you’re actively listening to what the other person is saying, trying to understand where they are coming from, and responding in a way that shows you care.

Imagine you are talking to a friend who has recently lost their job. They are feeling stressed, worried, and overwhelmed. 

If you’re an empathic listener, you will actively listen to what they are saying, and try to understand and acknowledge their feelings.

You might say something like, “I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your job. That must be really tough for you, I can understand why you’re feeling stressed and worried.”

Or you could show them empathy by asking questions like, “What has been the hardest part of this experience for you?” or “How are you coping with this loss?”.

But does it even require intelligence to do so?

It does, and I’ll explain how.

In fact, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with the other person. However, it does mean that you try to understand their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. 

And I believe that’s not possible without using intelligence and cognitive skills to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts with your loved ones.

8) Ability to effectively communicate ideas and thoughts

Want to know what’s another tell-tale sign of intelligence in everyday conversation?

It’s the ability to effectively communicate ideas and thoughts. 

The truth is that people who are able to express themselves clearly, concisely, and persuasively tend to be seen as intelligent. 

They are able to convey complex ideas in a way that is easy for others to understand. But most importantly, they make their points during dialogues in a logical and compelling way.

Whether it’s a professional context, a classroom, or a social setting, I believe that you can barely manage to communicate effectively without the ability to express your ideas and thoughts clearly.

What’s more, effective communication also enables a person to build and maintain relationships, negotiate, persuade, and ultimately be successful in life.

But what kind of intelligence do you need to effectively communicate your ideas and thoughts?

According to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, you need to have great skills in linguistic intelligence in order to be able to express yourself clearly and persuasively.

However, interpersonal intelligence is no less important to express yourself and understand others’ perspectives. 

In either case, having any of those skills makes people appear intelligent in regular conversations.

9) Cultural knowledge and social intelligence

And the final sign that can lead us to conclude that someone is intelligent in everyday conversation is having proper cultural knowledge.

The concept of “social intelligence” is quite new in the field of cognitive and social psychology and it can be defined as an understanding of the customs, beliefs, values, and practices of different societies and cultures.

Why is this important in everyday conversation?

Well, it allows individuals to understand and appreciate different perspectives and to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. 

Imagine that you are a businessperson planning to expand your company to a different country. 

Would you manage to have an effective conversation if you didn’t understand customs for business meetings and etiquette?

For instance, they might value punctuality and the appropriate level of formality in communication. 

In that case, if you use familiar language and arrive at the meeting late, chances are that you won’t be able to make a great impression on your future partners and clients.

That’s why having a good understanding of cultural knowledge and social intelligence can be a sign of highly developed general intelligence.

It simply shows that an individual can understand and adapt to different contexts, cultures, and social situations. 

Final thoughts

All in all, whether you want to find out if you appear to be an intelligent person in conversations, would like to make an impression on others, or want to assess whether others are actually intelligent individuals, hopefully, these signs will help you achieve your desired goal.

However, don’t forget that intelligence is not just one specific ability but a combination of different cognitive abilities and skills.

So try to reflect on your own communication skills and make an effort to improve in areas where you feel you may need it. With practice and effort, you will be able to become an effective communicator and excel in everyday conversation.

Picture of Nato Lagidze

Nato Lagidze

Nato is a writer and a researcher with an academic background in psychology. She investigates self-compassion, emotional intelligence, psychological well-being, and the ways people make decisions. Writing about recent trends in the movie industry is her other hobby, alongside music, art, culture, and social influences. She dreams to create an uplifting documentary one day, inspired by her experiences with strangers.

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