19 Things That Distinguish Smart People From the Rest

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By Darryl Henderson

Cognitive abilities aren’t the only way to identify if someone is smart; intelligent people have various traits, behaviors, and habits that make them stand out from the crowd! To show you what we mean, let’s investigate 19 key things that distinguish smart people from the rest.

Relentless Curiosity

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, an inquisitive nature and eagerness to explore new topics are also signs of high intelligence. Smart people tend to ask many questions and wish for a stronger understanding of various subject areas. They have a deep-rooted passion for learning and never want to stop!

Adaptable to New Situations

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According to Business Insider, intelligent people are highly adaptable by nature, which means they can quickly adjust to new situations or changes. They’re always open to new ideas and experiences and are willing to learn and grow from challenges, something that many of us struggle with!

Emotional Intelligence

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Higher emotional intelligence is often a sign of someone being rather smart. This doesn’t just concern understanding and managing their own emotions, though; they’re also excellent at showing empathy towards others, helping them to communicate effectively and build relationships easily. Now that is smart!


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You may not realize this, but being willing to consider different perspectives and ideas is a sign of intelligence. Smart people typically show acceptance of diverse viewpoints and cultural differences and flexibility in their thinking when provided with new information. This helps them learn even faster!

Demonstrating Resilience

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Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and failures. It’s a skill commonly found in smarter people, and it allows them to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity. In turn, this gives them a better chance of achieving difficult goals.


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Intelligent people have a strong sense of self-control and the ability to delay gratification, at least most of the time (we’re all human!) They display consistency in working towards long-term objectives and are adept at prioritizing tasks, demonstrating willpower, and managing their time efficiently.


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Frontiers report that intelligence is closely linked to creativity, especially when someone is open to new experiences. The ability to think outside the box, generate innovative ideas, and find unique solutions to problems means such people can get very far in life and work, sometimes effortlessly!

Showing Humility

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Another trait associated with high intelligence is the ability to value the input of others and acknowledge areas for improvement. Smart people are typically open to feedback and constructive criticism, seeing them as ways to improve rather than as personal attacks. We could all be more like this!

Lifelong Learning

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Smart people are committed to continuous education and skill development, staying updated with the latest trends and advancements where possible. They’re always seeking out new challenges and opportunities to grow and will never stop at qualifications that most people would find satisfactory.


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Being smart isn’t about knowing everything; it’s about understanding strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. It’s important for smart people to reflect on their own behavior and its impact on others while making conscious decisions aligned with personal values. They realize that all this helps them grow!

Razor-sharp Focus

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It’s commonly known that smart people tend to have an uncanny ability to concentrate on tasks without getting easily distracted. They can set clear goals and work methodically towards them, and they manage their time and energy effectively to maximize productivity. This all comes down to the previously mentioned point: self-discipline!

Empathy for Others

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According to Science Direct, higher intelligence contributes significantly to emotional sensitivity and a greater concern for others. This strength in empathy allows smart people to build strong interpersonal relationships and effective communication in a sincere manner. This is beneficial not only to them but also to anyone who interacts with them!

Analytical Skills

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Highly intelligent people are undeniably skilled at breaking down complex information into manageable chunks and identifying patterns, trends, and relationships in data. They can use logical reasoning to draw conclusions and make important decisions—skills that many of us regular folk struggle with!

Effective Communication

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Clearly articulating thoughts and ideas is a significant aspect of high intelligence. Smart people are adept at active listening and understanding different viewpoints and can adapt their communication styles to suit different audiences and contexts. They also take the time to learn the necessary vocabulary to communicate their thoughts.


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Smart people are able to think and act autonomously without requiring the influence of others, something that humans often struggle with. They’re keen to take the initiative and are proactive at making decisions, as they rely on their own judgment without considering external advice… unless they know they need it, of course.

Sense of Purpose

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A clear vision and direction in life are another highly favorable sign of higher intelligence. Smart people have no trouble setting meaningful goals and working diligently towards them. They’ll then align their everyday actions with these objectives, ensuring they get where they want to be in life. It’s pretty respectable. 

Critical Thinking

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Britannica describes critical thinking as using deliberative reasoning and impartial scrutiny of information to arrive at possible solutions to a problem. It’s a very common trait in smart people, meaning that they’re generally better at analyzing information objectively and evaluating evidence than others.

Problem-solving Skills

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Smart people are generally able to identify and tackle challenging problems by developing innovative and effective solutions, even if the problem is abstract! They apply logical reasoning and creative thinking to overcome various obstacles, making them an invaluable addition to any workplace. Everyone needs someone like that on their team!


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Last but not least, smart people are famously distinguishable from the rest thanks to their impressive resourcefulness. They’re able to use whatever resources they have at hand and can think creatively to overcome limitations, understanding where the gaps are in their knowledge. So, if this sounds like you, you may be smarter than you think.

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