Do you play up or play down your intelligence in social situations? | INFJ Forum

Do you play up or play down your intelligence in social situations?


Sep 5, 2009
Do you play up or play down your "intelligence" in social situations? Why or why not? And in what situations?

Intelligence can mean many things, not necessarily IQ. It could be one of Gardner's intelligences or any other type of specific intelligence you have which is above average?
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Down for vocab, up for wit!

I tried using my full vocab potential for a while long ago and it just made people think I'm a prick lol.

I'm not too naturally witty, but I can fake it and come up with some great things that carry me until my next bit of inspiration.
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Down for vocab, up for wit!

I tried using my full vocab potential for a while long ago and it just made people think I'm a prick lol.
OMG I do this too as they then think I am stuck up or feel threatened and start this freaky intellectual war (what is with that anyway?). I dont care if people are more intelligent than me.....I just want to be able to "be". So I hold back and blend using extroverted, witty mode.
I tend to play my intelligence down. But not in the sense of avoiding intellectualism, more in the sense of avoiding the arrogance that surrounds some intellectuals.

I'm not a genius, but I have a lot of special intellectual skills. My ability to predict ahead larger term issues 'regardless of the facts' drives most people nuts. In addition, the limited education of my parents means that I will never be, for example, an excellent writer. Thus I am firmly planted in the lower-middle class. But I don't hide it. On the other hand, I don't like to brag and want to be part of the whole. You'd have to drag out of me that I have a PhD in a real social setting. I never mention it when I introduce myself in business meetings, for example, unless it is specifically relevant.

I never act dumb, or go along with the crowd if it has lost it's mind. But I do not try to prove anything to anyone. I just wasn't raised to act regal and "higher-than-though". I've worked with people who do that and I find it taxing and depleting, although I have noticed some people suck up to it rather expectantly. I'd prefer to help get things done and be someone's friend.

I do speak my mind openly, and say what I think. When that appears 'smart' that is fine by me. More often it appears tangential to most people. I'm okay with that. I don't hide myself. But I don't present an 'air' of all I am and what I think.

And anyways, I'm old enough to have had plenty of opportunities to be dumb ;), so I just let that happen naturally.

I did the 'full vocabulary' speaking for a while, as well, but gave it up. I prefer to use words that people understand. If I find the right person, I'll throttle up the vocab, but I have to admit that skill has atrophied in the last decade. The further away from elite academia I move, the less tempted I am to exercise that skill.

Res, what do you do?
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I try to keep my mouth shut for the most part unless it is a subject that I feel EXTREMELY comfortable putting my two cents in about, or if I'm asked directly. I sometimes forget about the vocabulary thing as well, and then get made fun of because of it, or yes the intelligence war ensues. Well not really war so much as one person will pick up on it and try to win back the show I suppose. Which of course makes me feel even more uncomfortable. People don't really take that as me being stuck up, although I've been called that... they just usually think I'm a little different. =X

I do my best to shut up and blend in...
I never act dumb, or go along with the crowd if it has lost it's mind. But I do not try to prove anything to anyone.

Res, what do you do?

Also, this. ^^ By blending, I do not mean acting dumb or going along. If I feel something is being said against something I believe in and that my thoughts might actually be heard, I'll interject.
I can relate to the vocab thing a little. I always feel as if i need to word what i say simply because the word which comes to mind may seem more intellectual or snobby and then people may think i'm using it to impress or get attention.

On another note, I used to play up my intelligence but not because i thought i was better than anyone, but because of family, educational, and cultural background expected it. As long as you knew better (education wise) that it was expected that you should show it. Of course, it was snobbish. I remember when i was in school (high school/undergrad/some grad) i was very proud when a teacher or instructor would point out that i was good or brilliant in some way. It got to my head (probably why i'm not a fan of compliments -take them too seriously). In other words, i had little or no social intelligence. Being a "show off" was/is annoying. That's why when i teach, i rarely point out if someone is wrong. As an instructor, I want my students to be wisely assertive about their knowledge but not arrogant when they share it. I don't usually give the impression, especially with the area that i teach, that there must be a right or wrong answer (although sometimes there is).

Sometimes i do feel the need to mention my degree or education but usually as a defense mechanism. When i sensed that someone thought i wasn't as knowledgeable because of age, or when someone suggests or implies that i probably don't or wouldn't understand something they're talking about because i haven't experienced it, i want to defend myself so then i'm tempted (although i never do it) to go off on them and recite something intelligent or intellectual to prove that i DO know or understand something being discussed. I know, it's silly. I guess i have this fear of being underestimated. Reason is probably because in undergrad, i was one of the younger students in my classes, and was very inexperienced.

But at this point, i don't care about my degrees as much as i care about learning, but there are times when i want to mention it just to say, "don't worry, i get it, i know . . . because i've read or i know this or that" lol. Just one of those things.
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I can strongly relate to that, Res. I'm the same way inside.

I'll admit, I am often tempted to tell someone "You know, I have a degree that specializes in the thing you are talking about." But often times I hold back, anyway. But usually what I do is say "Oh really, I thought it was more like this..." and try to let them bow out. They don't always take a hint, though!

Once, I had a a guy explain for 30 minutes why I was wrong to an entire group in the area of my PhD. The next day, he sent an email to the entire group correcting himself, restating MY answer, but not mentioning me or my position at all. Now that guy was arrogant! And he made a lot of money by bullshitting people with that arrogance.

In the high tech field, bullshitting people with arrogance can get you really far, especially with venture capitalists. There's a lot of that around here.
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There's a lot of that around everywhere Ecton!

When I was younger I used to play it up to be intimidating to my peers, but as I grew up and met various sorts of people, I learned that there is a time an a place to display what one knows, and it isn't all of the time. There are people out there who will appreciate your smarts and there are people out there who will be turned-off. I just pick and choose.
I feel bad if I find myself actually trying to play up my intelligence, even if I'm really not. It likely a selfish guilt though, knowing that by playing it up I am making others dislike me and I don't want to be disliked.
Neither - my objective is always to communicate clearly, directly and succinctly.

I can't stand verbatiousness, loquatiousness, pretentiousness, sophistry, idiocy, etc.
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I always play my intelligence down. It actually comes really easily because I'm dyslexic (or something) and have a really hard time getting my points across. I mostly just want to blend in with the crowd unnoticed anyways.
I go for a solid neutral and work from there, this question for me is almost entirely depent on the situation, topic, and context. I can be a lot of things, but generaly people are loking for a specific person whent they talk to you. It's your job to figure out and decide whether or not it appropriate to be who they want to you to be.
No. I don't think so.
The only thing that could closely be called playing down is the fact that I am usually an observer in social situations and do more watching and analyzing or generally taking in the scenes than speaking and interacting.

I think the idea of purposely playing down your intelligence or dumbing yourself down in certain company is kind of arrogant. Just be real.
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I think the idea of purposely playing down your intelligence or dumbing yourself down in certain company is kind of arrogant. Just be real.

Err, I mean...hellz yeah!
I just say stuff, most of it is probably dumb but who knows.
Down for vocab. And down some just in general i guess.
That is such an interesting question. I generally play down because I don't want to seem like a smart ass. I wouldn't say I play up my intelligence, but acting more confidently when I am not comfortable with my knowledge in certain situations seems to come off as intelligence, haha.
It depends on who I am talking to. If I am talking to an intellectual friend, I do not hold back.

If I am with a group of people that I don't really know and I realize that they aren't the smartest, I hold it back then.