7 Ways to Appear Unintelligent
You want to make a good impression, right? Who doesn’t? Whether you are in a job interview or you are hanging out with friends, no one wants to look silly or unintelligent. I work primarily in higher education around people with PhD’s. I really have to pay attention to this. Here are seven things that make you sound unintelligent.
1. Use verbal pauses in every sentence.
So, um, just, actually, well, honestly I do this more than I care to admit. This is also why I practice formal speaking opportunities out loud. Record yourself and listen. What are your go to words? One way to avoid this is to not be frightened by pauses.
2. Use swear words regularly.
Too many people overdo the use of profanity. I personally don’t use profanity at all, but I will admit that used selectively and appropriately it can be a powerful way to make a point. However, for many profanity has become nothing more than a verbal pause…a word they fill in out of habit.
3. Say “mute point” instead of “moot point.”
Trust me, it’s “moot.”
4. Say “supposably” instead of “supposedly.”
This one gets debated a bit more. While both seem to be valid words, you probably mean to say “supposedly.”
5. Try to fake it.
Pretend like you know what people are talking about even when you don’t. This is particularly dangerous! It may work in the short term, but ultimately someone will notice. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity or to admit you aren’t following a conversation. I have seen people walk away from meetings without clarifying terms and it comes back to haunt them later.
6. Use as many buzz words as possible.
This may not make you look unintelligent, but more like you are trying too hard to be a cool, authentic, cutting edge, collaborative, innovative, and dynamic thought leader.
7. Watch for the common typos that your spell checker doesn’t catch.
I am referring to words like there and their, your and you’re, to and too, lose and loose, etc. Their are other examples, butt I think you get the point. If you’re industry uses one of these often misused words, be sure too learn the difference and use the correct one! (See what I did there?) While many of these mistakes are only detectable in written form, some are noticeable in speaking (e.g., then and than, insure and ensure, etc.).
Being aware of common mistakes and avoiding them will keep you from sounding unintelligent. Consider building your own list of the common mistakes you make, review it regularly, and add to it over time.
What are your problem words? What are the common mistakes that drive you nuts?