How To Put Your Foot in Your Mouth

There’s one simple thing you can say during a conversation or while public speaking that can almost destroy people’s impressions of you. It’s something that you actually hear people say all the time too, you’ve even probably said it before…

“I’m an intelligent person”

Every time I hear this, especially as a defensive statement or from someone I just met, I know I am dealing with someone who likes to stroke their own ego. Intelligence (as it’s popularly thought of) is a very subjective quality so this is something that should always be proved as opposed to claimed.

Consider that there are nine different forms of intelligence…

  1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”)
  2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”)
  3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (“Number/Reasoning Smart”)
  4. Existential Intelligence (“Philosophical Smarts”)
  5. Interpersonal Intelligence (“People Smart”)
  6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“Body Smart”)
  7. Linguistic Intelligence (“Word Smart”)
  8. Intra-personal Intelligence (“Self Smart”)
  9. Spatial Intelligence (“Picture Smart”)

Everyone on this planet is intelligent in at least one of these nine forms, so claiming intelligence is a useless generalization — like saying: “I breathe oxygen and eat food.” By making this statement you are revealing yourself as lacking in Interpersonal Intelligence (“People Smart”), Linguistic Intelligence (“Word Smart”), and Intra-personal Intelligence (Self Smart”).

On vacation in Primorsko

I think of my Bulgarian wife, she has brilliant linguistic intelligence but she can’t do math to save her life. She amazes me often with her mastery of her second language (English); she has a rich vocabulary and she knows English grammar better than I do (and I’m a public communicator and professional writer!)

Any time you find yourself tempted to say “I’m an intelligent person,” instead…

  • Think of what form of intelligence you are strong in — describe your strengths.
  • Find a way to prove and show your intelligence in this area.

The Exception: The rare case in which you do want to blatantly state that you are intelligent is when it has already been proved or when other people are saying it first. Even then realize that it’s a very egotistical statement.

Want more social dynamics communication hacks? Check out the chapter Social Dynamics Secrets of Elite Socialites, from my lifehacking manifesto — here’s the audio chapter…

Listen: Social Dynamics Secrets of Elite Socialites

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