10 Reasons Why Highly Intelligent People Have Poor Social Skills
Do you suspect that you’re more intelligent than most people, while others assume that you’re dumb or slow because of a lack of social skills?
It can be really frustrating when people think there’s something deficient about you because you’re not as glib and superficially quick-witted as they are. You’re not alone. Highly intelligent people can lack social skills more than others, and there are good reasons for it.
1. They overthink responses
Intelligent people tend to care what they say in conversation. They place more importance on their words than others, and this can mean they overthink their responses. A lot of casual conversation takes place spontaneously, on automatic pilot. Once you start thinking too much, it gets more difficult to speak without seeming awkward.
2. Ordinary topics might bore them
A major reason why intelligent people can have poor social skills is that they can’t summon up the enthusiasm to join in everyday conversations with people. Men may understand this feeling when listening to women discussing cosmetics, and women may understand it when listening to men analyze a football game. Some highly intelligent people feel this way about most of the conversation topics of both the sexes.
3. They can find it tough to find common ground with people
Most of the interests of a highly intelligent person will be of limited interest to those of average intelligence. This can mean that subjects that would make the highly intelligent person engaging and enthusiastic in conversation are off bounds because the other person wouldn’t be able to relate. Two neuroscientists might be very animated when discussing neuroscience, for example, but totally unable to respond in a conversation about celebrity gossip.
4. They’re more self-conscious
One of the disadvantages of higher intelligence can be a higher degree of awareness of oneself and one’s behavior in social interactions. Highly intelligent people may be super conscious of themselves while socializing. Imagine if you always had critical eyes watching and judging you while you speak. You’d feel like you were on stage and you’d be unable to act naturally. For many highly intelligent people, that critic is in their own heads.
5. They’re more conscious of you too
Another character flaw that can afflict the highly emotionally intelligent is that they can be extremely aware of other people’s responses in conversation. A person with a high emotional quotient can spot the micro-expressions and subtle body language cues in other people, which show when they’re impatient, bored, or not really listening. This can be crippling because people don’t really listen to others and aren’t genuinely interested in them at least half of the time! Once you’re aware of this, it can be almost impossible to continue a conversation with someone.
6. They’re naturally more anxious
Many correlations have been found in research between higher levels of intelligence and increased levels of generalized as well as social anxiety. Anxiety is a major cause of poor social skills. The reasons why this might occur are open to speculation. But it could be argued that ignorance is bliss and someone who is really conscious of what the world is realizes that it is a dangerous and unpleasant place. This naturally gives rise to feelings of fear and anxiety.
7. They’re uncomfortable with revealing personal info
The more intelligent a person is, the less comfortable they may be with revealing too much about themselves to people then don’t know well. This is the logical thing to do in many ways, as we all know that there are people around who might use personal information against a person. It’s reasonable to want to know a person enough to trust them with details about your life that could place you in a position of vulnerability. This has a cost in terms of social skills, though.
8. They hide their vulnerabilities
Following on from the previous point, intelligent people may be extremely cautious about revealing their vulnerabilities. This kind of self-protective behavior may be learnt rather than innate in intelligent people, but intelligent people are more likely to learn from mistakes and change their behavior in response to failures. The problem with this cautious attitude is that it robs them of essential social skills. People can’t warm to people who are unwilling to reveal their humanity to others. It prevents others sharing with them too.
9. Their impassioned responses about intellectual matters can alienate them
The problems that highly intelligent people have with social skills are not restricted only to the times when they hardly open their mouths. The real damage can occur when they do get talking. When an intelligent person gets involved in a conversation that happens to interest them, they can become so heated and enthusiastic that people think they are aggressively opinionated, or even that what they’re expressing is anger. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Intelligent people enjoy a heated debate and aren’t easily offended, nevertheless others mistake impassioned responses for aggressiveness and take offense easily.
10. It’s hard for them to avoid conflict at some point
A highly intelligent person often ends up in conflict with others because it’s difficult for them to let throwaway remarks about things to pass by unnoticed. Intelligent people are highly aware of the importance of ideas and how a bad idea can have terrible consequences for the human race. For this reason, they’re not likely to let you get away with saying something you haven’t thought through properly like most people would. People tend to take personal offense to being corrected in this way, even if (or especially if) they know they were wrong.
Are you an intelligent person who lacks social skills? Do you identify with the points made?