Hide your intelligence

“A know-it-all is a person who knows everything except for how annoying he is.” — Demitri Martin

If you’re a smart person, you might have the tendency to want to show it off.

You want people to know you’re smart. While there’s nothing wrong with displaying your intelligence, the costs for showing it off too much are high. People don’t like being corrected. Also, they don’t want a mirror reflected on their own inadequacy.

If you’re in a work setting, follow one of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power — never outshine the master. Showing up your boss is a surefire way to make the relationship contentious (even if only subtly). Showing people up in general means you lack an important type of intelligence — social intelligence.

If you had social intelligence, you’d know that letting other people take the spotlight makes them feel important. And they’d connect that feeling of importance with being around you.

Also, paraphrasing Greene again, it’s much more clever to resist the urge to display your cleverness (move in silence…let people think you’re less intelligent than you are).

It’s difficult for me. I’m tempted to correct people when I hear them say something incorrect. I love talking about all the things I know. But, at times, I’ll catch myself and realize that nobody really wants to know how smart I am. They want to know how I can play a role in their life that benefits them.

It’s almost always better to understate your intelligence than overstate it.