Travis Bradberry: Ten Guaranteed Ways To Appear Smarter Than You Are

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 8.26.00 PM.png

Link to the article above

I like Travis Bradberry's 10 ways to appear smarter than you are better after I arrange them into two lists: laudable and gimmicky. Here is my arrangement:

Laudable, in order from least to most laudable:

  1. Skip that drink.
  2. Speak expressively.
  3. Believe in yourself.
  4. Make graphs.
  5. Write simply.

Gimmicky, in order from least to most gimmicky:

  1. Look 'em in the eye.
  2. Keep pace with the crowd. ("If you want to look smarter, you need to stop dawdling, but you also need to stop scurrying around like some crazed robot.")
  3. Dress for success.
  4. Use a middle initial.
  5. Wear nerd glasses.

On the third laudable way to look smarter, "believe in yourself," I say this in "Calculus is Hard. Women Are More Likely to Think That Means They’re Not Smart Enough for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math":

In addition to discouragement, low confidence in oneself also causes other people to underestimate one’s skills. It is quite difficulty to know how skilled someone is, but typically quite easy to tell how skilled they think themselves to be. So people use a job candidate’s opinion of herself or himself as a shortcut for judging her or his skills. 

For those who need to come across as more confident I highly recommend the weekend personal growth workshops conducted by Landmark Education Corporation, beginning with the Landmark Forum. In my view, almost everyone entering the dissertation writing and then job-hunting phases of getting a PhD in economics should do the Landmark Forum because of how much it will help the psychology of being able to focus on dissertation research and then the psychology of self-presentation for getting a job. I am sure that the same advice would apply to students in many other fields, at many stages of education. 

My biggest disagreement with Travis is not my discomfort with gimmicky ways to appear smarter. It is with his conclusion

Intelligence (IQ) is fixed at an early age. You might not be able to change your IQ, but you can definitely alter the way people perceive you. 

Au contraire: your intelligence is not fixed at all. It is possible to become much smarter by serious, well-focused effort. If you don't believe that, read these three columns on education:

  1. There’s One Key Difference Between Kids Who Excel at Math and Those Who Don’t
  2. How to Turn Every Child into a “Math Person”
  3. The Coming Transformation of Education: Degrees Won’t Matter Anymore, Skills Will

What is said there about math also applies to many other mental skills.