The 4 Professional Behaviors that Make You Look Smart – and the 4 that Don’t

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Everyone wants to appear smart, but new research suggests that there are specific approaches one must take.


First impressions are hugely important in real estate, and it’s especially important that you present yourself in an intelligent, learned light; after all, you want your clients to have confidence in your skills!

How does one go about projecting intelligence, though? Below, we’ve compiled four professional behaviors that make you look smart, as well as four behaviors that – despite what one may believe – act against you.

The 4 Behaviors that Make You Look Smart

1. Looking at Others While Speaking – Nora A. Murphy, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, has conducted six studies on the importance of looking at others when you are speaking, and has found it to be among the strongest signs of one’s intelligence. So in other words, put away that phone and look people in the eye when you talk to them.

2. Standing/Sitting Up Straight – Never again make fun of that grade school teacher who corrected you for your posture! In a 2007 study of 182 graduate students that The Wall Street Journal referenced, posture was among the most common indicators of intelligence for the test subjects.

3. Being Relaxed/Confident – We often equate confidence with someone’s tone of voice and the content of what they say, but that 2007 study found that our facial expressions were just as important; participants gave high ratings to people who had relaxed, self-assured expressions.

4. Engaged Conversationalists – Finally, in addition to making eye contact during a conversation, intelligent people also engage with their conversation partner, meaning they gesture, nod and offer other signs that they are interested in what is being discussed.

The 4 Behaviors that Do NOT Make You Look Smart

Unsurprisingly, the four behaviors that act against one’s intelligence are practically antonyms of the previous behaviors:

1. A Serious Face – A poker face may be great when playing cards, but it hardly communicated intelligence, according to the aforementioned studies.

2. Holding Hands/Arms Still – Similarly, rigid movements did not do any favors on the intelligence scale; again, people equate casual and effortless movement with confidence.

3. Using Big Words/Complex Sentences – The stereotype of a smart person may be someone who uses large, unfamiliar words, but study after study has found that approach not only alienates people, but also makes one look less intelligent. Even worse, such methods can give the impression that one is “hiding inside a barrage of words, hoping no one will notice that they don’t know anything,” said Lisa D. Parker, a president of Heads Up Coaching and Consulting in New York, in the Journal article.

4. Moving Fast-Fast-Fast – Finally, speed (think blurting out answers during meetings) is not acquainted with intelligence, and like using big words, is more likely to render you a showoff than a savant.

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