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6 Things You Do Without Realizing That Make You Look Less Intelligent

6 Things You Do Without Realizing That Make You Look Less Intelligent

We all like to think we’re pretty smart people. For the most part, we are.

However, our actions sometimes betray our intelligence in ways that we don’t really even notice – but are glaringly obvious to those around us.

Whenever you’re in a situation in which the way others perceive you is important – such as at school or work – you need to be constantly aware of how you portray yourself. From the way you dress and act to the way you talk and the content of what you say, the people surrounding you will use every opportunity they can to judge you – for better or worse.

Take this into consideration the next time you interact with anyone outside of your comfort zone.

Dressing Down

The way you present yourself to the world determines how you will be treated by those who don’t know you. If you dress well, you’ll give off an air of respectability. If you schlep around in sweatpants and a T-shirt, no one will feel the need to give you the time of day.

If your workplace requires you to follow a specific dress code, you should be sure to follow it exactly as written every time you walk into the office. Even something as simple as leaving your tie at home one day will lead your colleagues to believe that you don’t think the rules apply to you – or that you don’t understand the rules in the first place. If you choose to dress down even the slightest bit, don’t be surprised if your coworkers and supervisors don’t listen to a word you say.

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Misusing Words or Sayings

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    For those of us who remember Tim Allen’s sitcom Home Improvement, recall the ongoing shtick in which Tim’s neighbor Wilson would relay some sage advice to Tim, only to have Tim jumble up the story when trying to sound smart later on in the episode.

    While it was always good for a chuckle when done by a fictional character, mixing up popular words or phrases in the real world is more pathetic than hilarious. If you’re a professor of literacy education who thinks “conversate” is a word, for example, your students probably aren’t going to be able to take you seriously throughout the semester.

    Don’t simply use buzzwords just because you’ve heard someone else use them in similar situations. If you can’t explain what you mean without using a colloquialism, you probably shouldn’t have said it in the first place.

    (Author’s note: Sadly, the above example is a true story. Don’t be that person).

    Appearing Aloof

    We’ve all been caught staring into space at some point in our lives, and we’ve all had to pretend as if  we were really listening to whoever was speaking – whether it was our teacher, our boss, or our spouse.

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    While we often make the excuse that we were “deep in thought” when we get caught with a blank stare on our face, the truth is we simply weren’t focused on the task at hand. While there are many reasons why we may not have been focused on the speaker at the time, they’ll almost always assume we weren’t listening because we didn’t understand or care about what they were saying.

    When you fail to maintain proper eye contact and exhibit body language that shows you’re listening, the speaker is likely to think you’re completely lost and have no idea what they’re talking about. Either that, or they’ll think you’re focusing so intently on understanding what they’re saying that you don’t have enough brainpower left to nod your head in agreement.

    Either way, the blank stare doesn’t make you look good.

    Talking Too Much

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      We’ve all heard the saying “loose lips sink ships.”

      While unless you’re high-level military personnel, what you say probably isn’t a matter of national security. But the words that come out of your mouth can lead others to think you’re not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.

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      A good rule of thumb is to never say more than needs to be said.

      When you speak succinctly, you show that you’re able to collect your thoughts and explain them in an easily understandable manner. You know what’s important and needs to be said, and you know what can be inferred and doesn’t need explanation.

      On the other hand, if you’re one to babble on without thinking of what you’re saying, you give off the notion that you talk just to hear your own voice, or just say whatever’s on your mind and hope it makes sense to others.

      You have complete control over what comes out of your mouth. Choose wisely.

      Talking Too Little

      On the other hand, being too quiet can lead people to pass judgment on you, as well.

      For those of us who tend to take a backseat during conversation, we know that others may come to think that we’re being rude, or that we don’t have anything important to say. Though we know our quietness, shyness, or even introvertedness is not a sign of lower intelligence, others may not understand this so clearly.

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      Because of this, it’s important for the quiet ones among us to speak up from time to time. Remember: You don’t have to say a lot; you just have to say enough to let your counterpart know you’re listening and have some sort of intelligent opinion on the topic at hand.

      Judging Others

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        I realize this entire article is based around the fact that people will judge (and perhaps misjudge) you based on singular actions you take rather than seeing you as a whole person. I’m not saying this is right – but I am saying it absolutely will happen.

        But just because others judge you based on one-off encounters doesn’t mean you should do the same. In fact, it’s much safer to simply never judge anyone for anything, ever. None of us have any idea what it’s like to live someone else’s life. When you judge someone, what you’re really doing is assuming they’ve had the exact same privileges that you have had throughout your life. You’re holding them to your own standard, as if you should have some say in how they live their life.

        When you judge others, it shows you are only able to see the world through your own eyes, and have never once thought about the fact that, with seven billion people in the world, there are seven billion different ways to live.

        Featured photo credit: LB And the Ugly Suit / Jason Meserve / Flickr via farm3.staticflickr.com

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        Last Updated on December 2, 2018

        7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

        7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

        When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

        You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

        1. Connecting them with each other

        Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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        It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

        2. Connect with their emotions

        Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

        For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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        3. Keep going back to the beginning

        Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

        On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

        4. Link to your audience’s motivation

        After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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        Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

        5. Entertain them

        While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

        Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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        6. Appeal to loyalty

        Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

        In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

        7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

        Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

        Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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