Top grades in school, a high IQ score, or a career in a complex field are all clear indicators that someone is smart. However, there are also numerous signs of intelligence that aren’t always obvious. Sometimes, you need to look a little closer at those around you to determine whether they’re truly clever. Albert Einstein, for example, couldn’t speak until the age of six, but those who paid attention to his childhood curiosity knew he was destined for greatness.
A quiet demeanor
It’s easy to make the mistake of believing that quiet people have nothing to say, but in truth, many of the most intelligent people are silent types. Smart people typically like to assess a situation and consider their thoughts carefully before sharing them. Making every response count often means participating less during a conversation, which is why so many savants come across as quiet and reserved. To avoid making incorrect remarks, they may even avoid talking at all if they don’t know much about the topic at hand.
A perfectionist streak
In the same vein, an intelligent person’s desire to avoid inaccuracy can also manifest as perfectionism. Smart people have particularly strong analytical skills and strong subject matter expertise. As such, they tend to pick up on every fault in their own projects or lives, no matter how minor. These masterminds often feel compelled to correct every issue they find, refusing to consider a project or goal finished until every aspect is completely perfect.
Being prone to anxiety
A tendency to become anxious can also be a surprising sign of intelligence, and it’s all down to those analytical skills. Analysis can quickly turn into over-analysis, leading intelligent people to imagine endless negative outcomes to a situation. For example, a smart person may overanalyze an off-hand criticism made by their boss, thinking of all the ways it could lead to them getting fired. Someone of average mental ability, on the other hand, may not pick up on the criticism at all. Worrying about all these possible outcomes can make clever people a lot more anxious in their daily lives.
An apathy for gadgets
Unsurprisingly, brainiacs typically find it easier to get to grips with technology. So, it may come as a surprise that they actually use gadgets like smartphones less often than most people. One theory suggests that since intelligent people are adept at learning and already know a lot about the world, they don’t need to search online as often. Other researchers propose that intelligent people get their mental stimulation from highbrow pursuits like reading and hobbies rather than gadget-based activities like web browsing, social media, and mobile gaming.
If someone you know is obsessed with reading newspapers or articles, they may be more intelligent than you think. Smart people are always hungry for knowledge, and that includes information on current events. As such, they tend to stay up to date on everything that’s happening in the world. In turn, reading the news can make intelligent people even smarter. Alongside teaching readers about a variety of subjects like science and politics, news articles encourage the mind to form new connections and opinions.
They’ve got punny humor
Intelligent people often get stereotyped as boring and bland, but they can actually be some of the funniest friends you’ll ever meet. In particular, smart people tend to have a penchant for making puns. Wordplay may not be everyone’s favorite form of humor, but it does display an in-depth understanding of vocabulary, grammar, and other facets of language most people know little about.
A natural empathy
Empathy is another little-known sign of high intelligence. For example, research has shown that intelligent children are more acutely receptive to emotional cues such as facial expressions and voice tone changes. They’re also better at analyzing thoughts and feelings, which all lead to more empathetic behavior. That said, intelligent people also tend to be more reserved about sharing their own emotions, which can make them come across as cold.
They can be an expert liar
A lot more goes into crafting the perfect lie than you might think. To make an untruth convincing, you need to analyze the person you’re lying to, create a believable story with no holes, and carefully moderate your speech and body language. When you really consider the difficulty of lying without getting caught, it should come as little surprise that the best liars are usually intelligent people. That also makes intelligent people better at telling when someone is lying to them.
Someone who never buys lottery tickets and doesn’t care about four-leaf cloves may be more intelligent than you thought. In general, many intelligent people don’t believe in luck — or, at least, they don’t believe in relying on it. Smart people are good at weighing up probability, which means they often avoid hoping for something they only have a small chance of receiving. Instead, the cleverest people prefer to create their own luck through hard work and careful strategizing.
They say they’re not smart
Finally, don’t be too quick to believe someone who says they’re not smart. As counterintuitive as it may sound, intelligent people frequently downplay their genius to others. Some smart people are modest about their intelligence because of their natural empathy, choosing to avoid making people feel bad about their own knowledge. Other intelligent people set the bar very high for themselves, refusing to label themselves smart if they can’t compare to the world’s greatest geniuses.