12 Proven Ways to Look Smarter

No one wants to be the dullard in a conversation. Here are ways to look smarter even when you're feeling a little out of your depth.

7. Ask questions rather than make statements

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You may think sharing your extensive knowledge on all subjects known to man would make you look smart, but you’d be wrong. Rather, it may make you look like a pompous windbag.

A better approach may be to ask questions or, more specifically, ask for advice. Research out of the Harvard Business School this year found those who ask for advice are deemed more competent than those who do not.

8. Dress to impress, but keep your assets covered

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No matter what the Dove commercials tell us, we’ll always be judged, at least partially, on our looks. If you want to be seen as an intellectual giant, you should consider putting away the red and reaching for the black instead. According to a survey by an online clothing retailer, only 12 percent of people thought red was an intelligent color whereas black got high marks for being both smart and confident.

Speaking of clothes, remember that modest attire is your friend. If you dress like “Magic Mike” during his big finale, you risk coming across as a mimbo. Researchers from the University of Maryland and Yale University conducted a series of experiments that found when people were sexualized, they were perceived as less intelligent. So protest as you will, ladies, but keep the cleavage in check if you want to look like the mental superstar you are.

9. Stand tall and straight

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I didn’t realize it until researching this article, but apparently taller people are more intelligent than shorter people. As someone who is 5-foot-4, I find this news a bit troublesome. Nevertheless, let’s put it to our advantage!

Even if you’re not tall, you can make the most of what you’ve got. Good posture can signal that you’re powerful and in control, so if you’re trying to impress someone with your brain, make sure you’re standing or sitting up straight. On the other hand, if you’re hoping your body will be what makes an impression, then you have my permission to lean on the bar while trying to pick up the hot chick.

10. Take care of your teeth

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Another way to make yourself look smarter is to keep your pearly whites healthy. A survey of 1,047 people found that 38 percent of them said they perceive people with straight teeth as smarter than those with crooked teeth.

Beyond making you look smarter, good teeth can help you appear younger and more attractive to boot. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to skip your evening brushing and flossing.

For additional tips on this front, check out “11 Ways to Save on Straight Teeth for Your Kids (or Yourself).”

11. Clean up your language

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You may think a few well-placed swear words add emphasis to your point or color to your personality, but they could, in fact, be making you look like a dummy. A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found 54 percent of employers say swearing at work makes someone look less intelligent.

Resorting to a string of profanities to get your point across may give the impression you’re not smart enough to express yourself in another way. Your best bet is to keep your tongue in check, particularly in the workplace or other settings where you’re hoping to make a good impression.

12. Skip the body mods

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Look, I don’t want to stifle your individuality or creativity here, but the reality is that facial piercings can make people question your intellectual prowess. Or at least that’s the finding of a 2012 study published in European Psychologist. Researchers report the more facial piercings you have, the more negative people feel about your intelligence. What’s more, men fare worse than women when it comes to dropping perceived IQ points because of piercings.

Now that you have our 12 tips, let’s have a quiz. Watch Miss South Carolina answer this interview question in the 2007 Miss Teen USA competition and count the number of things that she got right. Hint: The answer was not one of them.

Finally, look into my eyes and notice my fabulous posture because I, Maryalene T. LaPonsie, would like to ask: What do you think? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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