19 Common Behaviors Of Exceptionally Intelligent People

Photo of author

By Darryl Henderson

Many every day habits can reflect a person’s intelligence much better than an IQ score. Highly intelligent people have behaviors in common, often categorized by how they plan their days or strive to learn more. To illustrate, here are 19 common behaviors of exceptionally intelligent people.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Highly intelligent people always make time for reading, whether it’s informative articles, fiction novels, or non-fiction biographies – and they often make time for reading every single day. This can allow them to gain new insights, broaden their knowledge, and even develop their language skills.

Active Listening

Photo Credit: Bigone/Shutterstock

There’s listening, and then there’s active listening, with the latter being when you take in information rather than just waiting to speak. Harvard Business Review explains how active listening can help you “learn how to use thoughtful questions,” so it shouldn’t be surprising that highly intelligent people are great at it.

Seeking Out Deeper Conversations

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Highly intelligent people aren’t content with passing small talk or asking what you’re having for dinner. They seek out deeper and more meaningful conversations and often initiate them by asking thought-provoking questions. This encourages critical thinking and insightful dialogue with others.

Solving Puzzles and Brain Teasers

Photo Credit: stockfour/Shutterstock

We all know that regular puzzles are key for brain health, especially when you get older, and there’s a reason that intelligent people make time for them. Puzzles and brain teasers stimulate cognitive function, and the better you get at them, the more fun the problem-solving becomes!

Taking Time for Self-Reflection

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Being intelligent doesn’t mean you get it right every time; it means taking time to look back on what you did wrong, what you learned from it, and how to do it better. Highly intelligent people make time for such reflection, as it helps them to identify areas of improvement. So should you!

Practicing Mindfulness

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

Mindfulness allows intelligent people to gain further awareness of their own thoughts and feelings, which can help them focus, help them with problem-solving, and ensure they concentrate on the here and now. It also helps you to better deal with stress and pave the way for increased productivity.

Seeking Out New Experiences

Photo Credit: adriaticfoto/Shutterstock

Intelligent people constantly want to learn as many new perspectives as possible. This means stepping out of their comfort zone and seeking new people or experiences. They often put themselves in situations to explore new ideas or viewpoints, as they know that being closed-minded only shuts them off from learning experiences. 

Engaging in Lifelong Learning

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

As with new perspectives, intelligent people will constantly find new opportunities to study, such as attending seminars, workshops, or taking on a new learning course. Their hobbies are likely focused on learning new skills, too, and they understand that the more they learn, the more they can achieve.

Taking Care of Physical Health

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Just because intelligence is focused on the mind doesn’t mean that highly intelligent people neglect their physical health. They will prioritize regular exercise and physical activity. Adequate sleep is vital for cognitive function and can prevent a range of health, as Medical News Today reminds us, and there’s nothing intelligent about neglecting it.

Pursuing Creative Activities

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Hobbies such as painting, writing, or playing music will be sought out by highly intelligent people in order to stimulate their imagination. Creative expression is also important for innovative thinking and learning new things, so highly intelligent people will often feel fulfilled doing something creative.

Always Seeking Feedback and Constructive Criticism

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

Highly intelligent people need feedback, or even criticism, to learn what they’re doing correctly. They’ll always be open to feedback, bad or good because it’s an opportunity for self-improvement and for refining their skills. Whether it’s a friend, a colleague, or a boss, they’ll want to know what everyone thinks.


Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

An intelligent person will value a strong professional network of contacts and new connections, and they’ll constantly seek to grow it. They want to engage in as many meaningful exchanges as possible, particularly professionally, to collaborate and learn with others.

Time Management

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Good time management results in better productivity, more goals achieved, and a healthier mindset, which is why highly intelligent people always manage their time effectively. According to Forbes, time management can even help save you money in business, so there’s no wonder why intelligent people follow it so rigidly!

Staying Curious

Photo Credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

You’ll often find highly intelligent people are amongst the most curious about the world around them. They’ll never stop showing their inquisitive nature and will be the first to ask questions or to seek new ideas, often through traveling to new places. If they don’t know how something works, they’ll find out.

Practicing Self-Discipline

Photo Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock

Highly intelligent people don’t depend on others to keep them in check or set their schedules for them. They prioritize self-discipline to learn self-control and make better decisions that align with their goals. This self-discipline often includes setting strict routines and sticking to them, something that many of us struggle with.

Showing Confidence Without Arrogance

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Often, the most arrogant people asserting their intelligence are, in fact, the least intelligent. Highly intelligent people are confident without having anything to prove. They’ll be very humble and won’t reject negative feedback because they are confident enough in their abilities and don’t need validation.

They’re Very Independent People

Photo Credit: El Nariz/Shutterstock

It’s common for highly intelligent people to be amongst the most independent, as they’re happy in their own company. Solitude often gives them time to process their goals and to stick to their structured routine. They enjoy collaborating, but they don’t depend on others to grow.

Setting Goals

Photo Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Highly intelligent people set a variety of goals, whether it’s a daily to-do list, a weekly plan, or huge yearly goals. UNM claims that the key to goal setting is thinking about what’s important to you. This means that intelligent people are always striving for what they want, making them happier and more fulfilled.

Complete Open-Mindedness

Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Finally, one of the most common traits of an intelligent person is an open mind. They’ll always be willing to hear an alternative perspective, even on difficult topics, and will never dismiss another person’s opinion. They’re ready to be swayed if it means learning something new or admitting that someone else’s viewpoint is logical.