Intelligence is not just about being smart, but also about making wise decisions and avoiding behaviors that hold you back.
Here are 10 things that intelligent people never do, and neither should you.
1. They never stop learning
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein
Intelligent people love learning. That is what made them so smart in the first place!
And I don’t mean that they have their noses stuck in books all the time, but that they keep an open mind and never stop thinking and asking questions.
They would check out new kinds of music, read books, attend events, and even just listen to what other people have to say.
There’s only so much time in this world, and they would rather invest that time into improving themselves than talking about pointless drivel like rumors and hearsay.
Another thing we associate with intelligent people is knowledge. They just seem to know a lot, somehow… and this is precisely the reason why.
2. They don’t passively accept things
“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the man who does not ask is a fool for life.” – Confucius
Intelligent people are not afraid of questioning the status quo or challenging authority.
Think about it: true intelligence isn’t just about being able to regurgitate facts or solve math problems.
It’s also about being curious, open-minded, and willing to consider multiple perspectives.
And that’s exactly what questioning everything does.
It shows that you’re not content with simply accepting things at face value – you want to dig deeper, explore new ideas, and think critically.
Intelligent people tend to question things because they have a natural curiosity and a desire to understand how things work and why they are the way they are.
This can lead them to ask a lot of questions and seek out answers to things that others may not think to ask about.
3. They don’t pick fights
“Be calm in arguing for fierceness makes error a fault and truth discourtesy.” —George Herbert
Intelligent people avoid arguing with people. Arguing is counterproductive.
Even if you win an argument, you don’t gain any social points from it. Most of the time, it just makes someone look bad.
As Dale Carnegie said:
“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s goodwill.”
Now don’t get me wrong:
Intelligent people enjoy discussing ideas, even with people they disagree with.
But they know that a calm conversation where both people genuinely listen to each other leads to much better outcomes than a heated exchange.
If someone is angry when speaking to them, they simply try to listen to what they have to say and they respond in a calm and collected manner.
If the other person continues to be aggressive and angry, an intelligent person will walk away from the conversation because they know it’s just a waste of time.
4. They don’t talk without thinking first
“A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.” – Anthony Liccione
It’s easy to be socially intelligent. Heck, being socially intelligent is often a product of doing less.
Intelligent people know that it’s better to hold a bit back.
As Abraham Lincoln said:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that a socially intelligent person becomes mute. They don’t avoid sharing their opinion altogether.
They take that extra second to think about what they’re going to say, and they make sure that what they say actually adds value.
By saying a bit less, you have more impact on what you do say. This means that people are more likely to listen to you when you speak.
After all, think of the people you know who constantly talk and talk and talk. Do you take them seriously?
Socially intelligent people know that it’s better to be someone who doesn’t run their mouths constantly, and instead jumps into a conversation when they having something worth saying.
5. They don’t focus too much on the negative
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” – William James
Thinking in worst-case scenarios could be helpful… sometimes.
When someone is planning, say, a wedding, it’s important to consider what might go wrong.
What if the catering doesn’t arrive on time? What if the weather is bad? What if crashers ruin the event?
These are important problems to have prepared solutions for should they come up.
But spending too much time worrying about what could go wrong might also not be productive.
It could adversely affect one’s emotions and could even discourage them from taking any action.
So highly intelligent people instead acknowledge that some things could go wrong, and then address them in the present moment as soon as they can.
6. They don’t try to change what’s out of their control
“We must learn to accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
“For after all,” the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “the best thing one can do when it is raining, is to let it rain.”
There are many things in life beyond our control that cause stress and frustration.
The traffic jam on the way to work.
The rainy weather on a special day. How others treat us.
The foolish think they can change these things to what they desire.
The intelligent know that’s impossible.
They understand that there are things in life that are within our control – our patience and humility – and beyond our control.
Focusing on what they can control is what makes intelligent people so effective in their lives and work.
7. They don’t shy away from challenges
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
Intelligent people don’t settle and grow their roots in one place; they’re always looking for new avenues to excel.
It’s easy to believe that smart people were always born smart, and while that may be the case for some, it’s not true that intelligence is always inherent.
Contrary to what people want to believe, intelligence can be honed just like any other skill, but what truly separates the good from the great is grit and determination.
That’s the first step to achieving excellence.
Intelligent people are who they are because they don’t shy away from challenges.
They expose themselves to stimuli that will encourage them to tap into their problem-solving abilities.
They allow themselves to fail, learn from their mistakes, and find better strategies to move higher up.
8. They don’t forget to see the bigger picture
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary
When something frustrates us, it’s easy to see it as the most pressing issue ever.
It takes over our entire mind and world; we become so stressed that we can’t even see straight.
But intelligent people understand how to put things in perspective.
They can step back at their problems and ask themselves, “How bad is this problem really?”
The world won’t end just because the shirt you ordered doesn’t match the website, or because the food you prepared wasn’t as good as you thought it would be.
In the bigger picture, these problems are nothing to stress out about.
9. They never lash out
“Never make crucial decisions when angry. The rage that clouds judgement fades and only its consequences linger thereafter.” – Stewart Stafford
Aside from their hunger for knowledge and deep understanding of life, intelligent people are known for being able to handle their emotions well.
They don’t shout cuss words just because they’re angry.
Sure, they do get angry but they pay attention to HOW they express their anger.
Things are bad enough, so they take great care not to make things even worse. Instantaneous emotional relief might be great in the heat of things, but they would rather think ahead.
People might mistake this for them being doormats, especially if all they’re used to is being aggressively walled off when people are mad at them.
But make no mistake—intelligent people are as far as one can be from being a doormat.
10. They never stay in meaningless interactions
“I hate small talk. I want to talk about atoms, the universe, and everything.”
Although intelligent people are very patient in general, they’re not necessarily going to extend that patience if they know you’re just wasting their time.
They won’t stick around if they could feel that the conversation is devolving into nonsense.
They will stop dating someone who’s clearly not into them, or is playing mind games with them.
Intelligent people value themselves and their time. To them, it’s the most precious thing they have and they’d rather spend it on things that truly matter.