17 Phrases to Use on Someone Who Thinks They’re More Intelligent Than You

Intelligence is a challenging concept, and you may find yourself in many conversations where people want to show intellectual superiority. If you are wondering how to deal with someone who thinks they are more intelligent than you, this article provides some phrases that can help you navigate the situation.

Redirecting with Questions

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The Newroots Institute writes that redirecting a conversation with questions can be an effective way to avoid pointless arguments. First, acknowledge what someone is talking about, and then switch the topic. This enables you to guide the conversation towards areas where you feel more confident without causing conflict.

Humorous Retorts

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Start your conversation with a joke or some funny stories. Making jokes can help make the discussion lighter and lower someone’s guard. It also helps reduce the tension in a serious conversation so people don’t feel they have to impress each other.

Offering Insights

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Gently share your insights on the subject based on personal experiences or knowledge of the subject. This can show your intelligence without resorting to direct confrontation. Providing unique perspectives can also enrich the conversation and challenge any assumptions that might come from a place of ignorance.

Using Diplomatic Language

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Diplo says that “one of the typical characteristics of ‘diplomatic’ language is a certain subdued tone, some kind of understatement.” This helps you convey a conflicting message in a less demanding way or communicate something negative without causing worry and keeping the listener hopeful.

Sharing Personal Experiences

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Sharing stories from your past or personal experiences can help you connect on a personal level. It also helps someone understand you better and where you might be coming from. Sharing personal experiences humanizes the interaction, builds rapport, increases mutual respect, and builds empathy.

Reframing Perspectives

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Change the conversation and challenge assumptions by offering alternative viewpoints. This can lead to deeper insights and mutual learning. Varying perspectives on a topic can encourage flexible thinking, promote creativity, and foster innovation.

Acknowledging Expertise

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Avoid challenging someone’s intelligence to sustain a productive conversation. The Institute for Organization Management recommends avoiding words like ‘no,’ ‘but,’ and ‘can’t.’ These statements make someone feel rejected and can escalate conflict. Show appreciation for their knowledge in certain areas while asserting your expertise to build a more collaborative dialogue.

Utilizing Socratic Method

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Philosophy Break defines the Socratic Method as a form of cooperative dialogue whereby participants make assertions about a particular topic and investigate those assertions with questions. By guiding talks with these kinds of questions, people can learn to understand each other better and respect each other’s views.

Expressing Curiosity

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Show interest and curiosity to foster a collaborative exchange of ideas. This will show the other person that you are a curious person and will show your humility and willingness to learn. If the other person is half as intelligent as they think, they will end up admiring you instead of competing with you.

Emphasizing Common Ground

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No matter how different two people are, there is always a common ground they share. Highlighting shared goals or interests can create a sense of unity and cooperation, which may eliminate any unnecessary feelings of competition.

Demonstrating Active Listening

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Being a good listener is such a simple yet very rare quality. When someone tries to upstage you, listen to them with intention. This will help you formulate a more informed response, putting them in their place.

Encouraging Collaboration

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Instead of competing with someone who is trying to prove they’re more intelligent than you, encourage them to see how working together can benefit both of you. For example, if you are in a classroom and are bidding for first place, you will find that studying together might help both of you better than competing with each other.

Maintaining Composure

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Stay composed and confident, even when someone disrespectfully undermines your intelligence. Instead of losing your cool, respond calmly and confidently to show emotional intelligence and maturity.

Leveraging Empathy

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In some cases, people may want to elevate themselves due to events that have happened to them in the past. For instance, someone may feel the need to stand out if their parents never gave them any praise. Instead of indulging in their behavior, show compassion by either walking away or letting them have that win.

Avoiding Defensiveness

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When someone acts like they’re smarter than you, it’s important not to get defensive. By staying calm and open to other views, you can avoid fights and learn new things. Admitting when you’re wrong is not a sign of weakness; it shows you’re honest and can be trusted.

Clarifying Misunderstandings

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If there’s a misunderstanding, clear it up fast. This stops the wrong ideas from growing and makes things clear for everyone. If you’re confused, ask questions to understand better, and if someone doesn’t get your point, try explaining with examples instead of losing it.

Focusing on Solutions

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Instead of dwelling on your differences, direct the conversation towards finding solutions to move forward positively. Working together on solutions builds teamwork and gets everyone moving in the same direction. Always aim to solve problems together for a positive way forward.

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