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

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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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        Matt Duczeminski

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        Last Updated on July 20, 2021

        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

        You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

        Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

        Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

        Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

        1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

        According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

        “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

        Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

        Warming up

        If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

        If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

        Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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        1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
        2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
        3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

        Stay hydrated

        Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

        To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

        Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

        Meditate

        Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

        Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

        Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

        Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

        2. Focus on your goal

        One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

        Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

        Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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        Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

        If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

        3. Convert negativity to positivity

        There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

        ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

        It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

        Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

        Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

        Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

        4. Understand your content

        Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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        However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

        “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

        Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

        Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

        One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

        5. Practice makes perfect

        Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

        In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

        Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

        6. Be authentic

        There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

        Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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        Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

        To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

        With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

        Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

        7. Post speech evaluation

        Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

        Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

        We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

        You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

        Improve your next speech

        As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

        Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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        • How did I do?
        • Are there any areas for improvement?
        • Did I sound or look stressed?
        • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
        • Was I saying “um” too often?
        • How was the flow of the speech?

        Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

        If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

        Reference

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