They say still waters run deep and I tend to agree. After all, when you’re genuinely smart it’s rare you feel the need to boast about your intellectual gifts.
The opposite is true: when you’re not as bright as you think, you might have the urge to overcompensate to impress people, whether you know/like them or not.
So here’s another saying: “An empty barrel makes the most noise.” Now that you have an idea of the distinction, you can start moving forward.
Do you want to start communicating your intellect silently, without coming off too strong?
You’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps.
It’s time to put that thinking cap on… let’s dive in!
1) Own a few books
Real talk: When you’re in a public setting, always have a book in hand, particularly something that is engrossing and penned by a well-respected author.
It can be a captivating novel, a deeply layered memoir, a scientific journal, or some form of creative non-fiction, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re genuinely invested in it.
Just a disclaimer, the book should be more than an accessory, it should be something you own to satisfy your genuine desire for knowledge.
This way when someone inevitably asks you about it, you can provide real feedback.
After all, there’s nothing that can replace good ol’ fashioned reading when it comes to advancing intellectual pursuits.
2) Start listening attentively
Smart people are good listeners, which indicates their innate emotional intelligence.
Do you know any pseudo-intellectual know-it-alls? They might speak in monologues, boasting their supposed wealth of knowledge by selfishly hogging the spotlight, pontificating to anyone who will give them the time of day
The true intellectual isn’t merely interested in voicing their own thoughts, they are just as keen to understand others’ thoughts and opinions.
They have humility that their less smart counterparts sometimes lack.
They’re always eager to learn more, be it from books, the internet, or, as is the case here, other people.
3) Dress to impress
I know, there’s a new wave of tech geniuses like Mark Zuckerburg who make it a point to dress down.
Once you’re worth over 100 billion, you’re excused.
As a general rule, making it a point to dress and groom properly for the right occasion goes a long way.
Remember, appearances are everything, subtly communicating your confidence, attention to detail, competence, intelligence, and discipline.
You don’t have to become a style icon overnight, but investing in well-fitting, elegant pieces will work in your favor.
Start dressing smart, and that’s the image you’ll be projecting to the rest of society.
4) Have an organized workspace
An orderly, well-kempt workspace shows that you are an analytical, strategic thinker with a high level of discipline–traits that are typically associated with smart folk.
Sure, Einstein had a notoriously messy workstation but until you can come up with a body of work on par with the theory of relatively, you should keep that desk organized.
At the very least, this sense of order will subconsciously help you coordinate your thoughts, thus improving your overall productivity.
5) Be a writer
I may be biased, but I’ve always found writers to be intelligent people.
Writing insightful, thoughtful, grammatically fluid posts on social media, blogs, or even emails is a clear indicator of your intellectual prowess.
Take it from me: you’d be surprised how rare good, well-structured writing is in this world.
Just don’t try too hard, or this may backfire.
Do you know how the late writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain got his first real book deal?
He was friends with a guy named Joel, whose wife was a book publisher in New York City. Bourdain was on a work trip to Tokyo and he was corresponding with his friend through email.
In a series of emails, he’d go on inspired bursts about Tokyo, describing the East Asian capital in such clever, vivid, and original ways, his gift for storytelling through the written word fully apparent.
The astonished friend printed out the emails and read them out to his wife, who later offered him a book deal–something that would eventually materialize as Bourdain’s wildly successful memoir Kitchen Confidential, the piece of non-fiction that catapulted him to global fame.
6) Having problem-solving skills
When it comes to communicating your intelligence, the show don’t tell rule is generally a good one to utilize.
Let’s say at the office you consistently come up with innovative solutions for unpredictable obstacles and challenging situations like dealing with a testy client.
Do this enough times, and your superior level of intellect and analytical abilities (not to mention your ability to handle stress and pressure) will be apparent to just about everyone.
7) Invest in your body language
It’s the little things (and gestures) that count.
Never downplay the importance of things like good posture, a firm handshake, and maintaining eye contact during interactions.
Positive body language frequently suggests confidence and presence, which, you guessed it, are almost always linked to intelligence.
8) Cultivate patience
Have you ever seen someone lose their cool in public? It can be a pretty messy sight.
Generally, of all the characteristics people will associate with this person, intelligence isn’t likely to be one of them.
So next time, take the time to think before reacting or making rash decisions–this shows you’re a step ahead of the rest of humanity, who are generally plagued with fragile emotions and impulsive behaviors.
When the going gets tough, you remain cool and calm, which naturally produces better results in your chosen pursuit(s.)
9) Be a continuous learner
The truly smart people of the world I’ve come across value continuous learning and evolving.
They aren’t content with limiting themselves to places, people, or ways of thinking.
They know that to keep pace with the ever-changing world, they have to embrace change and evolution.
So whether it’s enrolling in online courses, attending seminars, learning a new language, or technical skills, they’re always keen to find opportunities for intellectual growth.
10) Have a fitness regimen
Staying on top of your conditioning is sure to impress a few people.
It shows that you are aware of the importance of regular exercise in terms of both your physical and mental health.
After all, exercise’s connection with cognitive functions is well documented. The proof is out there: the more you exercise, the smarter (and more well-rounded) you get.
So regardless if it’s yoga, pilates, running, or engaging in full-contact team sports, exercise is something that should be a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.
11) Value discretion
I know people who seem to post their every action or thought.
They also seem to glorify the hustle; anytime they’re doing (or pretending to anyway) anything remotely productive, they think it warrants a post on Instagram.
Early morning at the gym, post! Working on a new project, post! Reading a new book, post!
From my experience, the truly intelligent people of the world have an aura of mystery and discretion about them.
They aren’t quite open books; they’re complex in the best possible ways.
They don’t often feel the need to tell the whole world about their mundane daily activities and passing thoughts, nor do they desire the validation of social media likes/comments as many of us do.
Generally speaking, they move silently, which is an indication of their firm intellectual foundations, something that only adds to their allure.
I’ll say it again: showing off your intellect doesn’t require over-the-top gestures or wordy monologues.
Like many things in life, it’s the subtle things that portray your intelligence. Don’t underestimate people, they can pick up on these little tells.
In fact, the more subtle they are, the more admiration you’ll likely get from those that count.
The actual intelligent person is sly and understated, not loud and brash. They don’t require the empty validation that many of us crave.
Start integrating the actions outlined here, and allow yourself to shine organically, showing off your inner sophistication and depth, both cognitively and emotionally.