20 Surprising Things You Do That Make People Think You Aren’t Smart

Forget about appearance for a second – I think that everyone can agree that we’d all like others to think we are smart and intelligent human beings. No one enjoys being called “dumb” or “ditzy.” We don’t brag about bad grades or not understanding something. In fact, so many people are so obsessed with being considered smart that they work overboard to prove that they are. They use big words to show off the fact that they know them, and they talk over everyone to convince the people around them that they truly know everything. You would think that constantly spewing facts and sticking to your opinion no matter what would be a good thing, but it actually has the opposite affect. There are some little things you do that actually make people think you aren’t smart. 

Whether or not that means you’re actually not smart is something that remains to be seen, but still… it stings to feel like someone thinks you’re stupid. How do you know if you’re giving off the impression that you have no idea what you’re doing? This Ask Reddit thread discusses the little things you do that cause people to think you aren’t smart. And while I am a strong advocate for not caring what other people think, a lot of these things come off as rude more than anything else. And who wants to be rude? Here are 20 surprising things you do that make people think you aren’t smart. Keep them in mind!


1. Refusing to think outside of your opinion.


pizzapede: The inability to consider and possibly adapt to new concepts.

You’re entitled to your opinion, but no one is going to respect you if you can’t open your mind just a little bit.


2. Making everything about sex.

ooh my

russianout: Disrupting conversations in the room by picking out words from said conversations and turning them into sexual innuendo.

To me, this is more of a sign of immaturity than not being smart, but I can see how you could interpret it that way too.


3. Basing someone’s intelligence off just one thing (*ironic*)

judging you

sarcasm24: Judging someone’s intelligence based on one thing.

Judging someone’s entire personality based on one thing is definitely a sign of unintelligence. Although, that’s basically what this whole thread is about.


4. Telling someone they’re stupid and wrong instead of explaining why you feel like they’re wrong.


On_Too_Much_Adderall: Responding to my argument with personal attacks, rather than a valid counterargument.

You don’t have to agree with everyone, but you should know how to talk to them. If you just say, “you’re stupid,” YOU sound stupid. Instead, explain why you disagree.


5. Assuming being older means you know more.


PGucci: When someone says that they understand more on a topic because they’re older.

Age does not equal intelligence.


6. Refusing to consider new evidence on something they thought they knew to be true. 

i right

Bunnymel: When they refuse to change or review their opinion in light of new evidence.

Take new facts and ideas and studies with a grain of salt, but be open to the fact that things change. If you can’t accept that, something’s wrong.


7. Stating a strong opinion but not being able to back it up.

of course

Eight-backwards: When they state a bold opinion on a controversial topic (or on any topic really), and then, when questioned on it, have no actual evidence or explanation of why they believe what they do. Bonus points if they get offended that you challenged them.

Having a strong opinion on something is a sign of intelligence. Not being able to explain why you feel that way just makes it seem like you have no idea what you’re talking about.


8. Using big words incorrectly. 


MoistPete: Using SAT words when they don’t fit the context. Yes, ‘reprehensible’ is a long word, but that doesn’t fix the garbled mess of your sentence.

Don’t throw a big word out there unless you know for sure you’re using it correctly. Otherwise you just sound like you’re trying too hard.


9. Refusing to admit you don’t know something.


Thompson_S_Sweetback: Never admitting you don’t know something.

I used to be friends with a girl who could never admit she didn’t know something. She would lie about things just to make it seem like she knew more than I did. It never made me think she was smart and knew everything. It made me think she was ridiculous because she couldn’t admit she didn’t know something.


10. Not knowing how to explain yourself.

im the best

stormywho27: Not being able to articulate your ideas clearly and coherently. You could be the smartest person in the world, but it’s no use to you if you can’t explain what you know.

Again, the inability to explain yourself is a sign that you don’t really know what you’re saying.


11. Saying “like” too often.

like stuff

Dr–Acula: Using “like” or any miscellaneous swear every other word. Speaking with an upward influx or using vocal fry.

Some of us say filler words like “like” and “um” too often. Is it fair to say someone is dumb because of that? No, but that doesn’t stop people from thinking it.


12. Disregarding basic grammar.


anirbas89: Refusing to learn/adhere to basic grammar rules. Your/you’re, their/there/they’re, are/our, two/too/to. If you choose to remember/learn one thing about the written English language, let that be it.

You don’t need to be the most grammatically correct person in the world, but having an understanding of basic grammar is always a good idea.


13. Posting Facebook status equivalents of chain letters.

but why

Darkline368: As of Nov. 6, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future…..

Guys. These are NEVER true. Please stop.


14. Creating drama out of nothing.


Aetra: Inventing drama at work cause your life is boring.

Acting like there’s drama when there isn’t doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just doesn’t make you look good.


15. Being frivolous with money when you can’t afford to.


The_Upsetter: Spending money on unnecessary material things (like fancy wheels for your car, designer clothes) but then not being able to afford your rent, food, etc. And then being dumb enough to complain about it AND you keep making the same mistake over and over again.

Some of us (ahem) have trouble with money. That doesn’t mean we’re dumb. But I can see how it comes off that way.


16. Being against modern medicine.

judge judy

heuler77: Being against vaccines or other modern medicine

I can’t get into this right now.


17. Not letting anyone else talk.


ridiculous__username: People who are quick to talk but can’t listen to the others during a discussion.

If you can’t let anyone else ever speak, it doesn’t look good for you. It makes you look bad.


18. Smoking cigarettes. 


menomenaa: I am happy that at age 26 and living in New York City, smoking is finally becoming a “woah you really still do that?” cringe for most people. I used to smoke, especially in college, and it was hard to quit because everyone just sort of did it together. Now the stigma is finally sticking that it’s pretty fucking stupid to do. I can’t imagine ever wanting to date a man that smokes, and I recognize that if I still smoked, it’d be a totally fair deal-breaker for anyone that might want to date me.

Cigarettes kill you. Stop smoking them.


19. Believing something without understanding it. 


farmerwouldsay: Blind Faith. Whenever someone is absolutely positive about something, with no solid evidence, I think a bit less of them. Doesn’t mean they are a complete idiot, but their rational intelligence comes into question.

Know the facts of what you believe in before you defend it.


20. Only believing what they want to believe. 

eye roll

ArsenalOwl: Only accepting evidence they want.

I can’t stress this one enough. Clearly.

Which of these things do you agree with? What do you disagree with? What did we forget? Tell us in the comments.

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  • Daniel Ragnå

    I’d like to add number 21, but this may not apply to everyone:
    Commenting about something in a rather stupid way on purpose. If you’re a good actor, however, you come off as stupid, socially inept or otherwise something that portrays you in a bad manner of some sort. And trying to exlplain youreslf becomes pointless, as they won’t believe the explanation anymore.

    EXAMPLE: Had a conversation, they asked me as question with a nice dose of sarcasm, and I just decide to act it out and go OH REALLY? and now they still believe I am a complete idiot. But its actually fun too. Dad more or less knows that I know far bettre, but its too much fun to come of as a little or exceedingly incompetent! Besides, they bother me less with ‘smart stuff’, as one could put it! Acting socially inept and/or overall unintelligent has its advantages!