10 Phrases That Intelligent People Will Generally Not Say

This article is designed to be for educational purposes and is not to suggest that people are not smart if they say things listed in this article.

Happy New Year Psych2gGoers!

It goes without saying that words are both powerful and impactful and intelligent people know that language matters. A recent study conducted by LinkedIn, discusses why language matters and have the potential to significantly change how people view us, how well we do in the workplace, and how we even view ourselves. (Bradberry, 2020)

It is not uncommon for us to have the occasional ‘slip ups’ and some of us may stumble over our words or find it harder than others to express how we feel using verbal communication alone. Some of us may even say things without even really understanding how we come across to others and be socially unaware about how what we say can have profound impact on others and how they view us.

This is why those who are intelligent, mature, confident, and reliable speak with care. They make sure their words are appropriate for the time and they choose to speak transparently. (Power of Positivity, 2018).

With that in mind, here are 10 phrases that intelligent people will generally not say.

1. “It’s not my fault”

Intelligent people will have a tendency to be accountable for their actions and will rarely cast the blame onto others. The moment you start pointing fingers is the moment people start seeing you as someone who lacks accountability for their actions. Some will avoid working with you altogether, and others will strike first and blame you when something goes wrong. (Bradbury, 2020). Stick to the facts and offer objective explanations about situations if you feel that you are not in the wrong.

2. “This is not good enough. This needs to be perfect!”

No one is perfect. That is a fact. According to behavioural science professor and author, Kristen Lee Ed.D., LICSW, expecting perfection is to set yourself up for failure (Power of Positivity, 2018) Smart people tend to work on completing things to the best of their ability rather than expecting things to be flawless. From this they can make improvements and learn from their mistakes.

3. “That’s not in my job description”

This often sarcastic phrase makes you sound as though you’re only willing to do the bare minimum required to keep getting a paycheck, which is a bad thing if you like job security (Power of Positivity, 2018). Smart people will generally discuss this with their manager if they feel that what they are being asked is inappropriate rather than outright refusing. If there are added expectations required of your position, perhaps this is a discussion that should be had regarding whether your job descriptions needs an update. It also enables you and your boss to develop a long-term understanding of what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

4. “It’s not fair!”

Everyone knows that life isn’t fair so smart people don’t have expectations that the World owes them anything. Saying it’s not fair may make you look immature and naïve. If you don’t feel like a fair decision has been made, perhaps rephrase your words by saying such as: “Would you mind telling me what went into that decision? I’d like to know why you thought I wasn’t a good fit so that I can work on improving those skills.” (Bradberry, 2020)

5. “I have a high IQ and therefore I am smarter than you.”

According to some studies, there are 9 kinds of intelligence. IQ tests examine only one particular kind, and they usually favour people who are good at solving specific tasks such as puzzles and problems (Power of Positivity, 2018). There is nothing wrong with being smart, but using that as a reason to evidence that you are in the right, comes across as arrogant and entitled.

6. “No offence, but…”

How many times have you heard a sentence start with that, only to be followed by something, well, offensive?! Instead of using phrases like this, try to find a way to take disrespect or offence out of the equation altogether. Smart people don’t want to put someone on the defensive before they’ve even gotten their point across (Power of Positivity, 2018).

7. “This might be a stupid question”

These statements may suggest that you lack confidence, which makes the people you’re speaking to lose confidence in you (Bradberry, 2020). Generally, if you are not confident in what you’re saying then no one else will be either. A way of rephrasing this could be “I don’t have that information right now, but I’ll find out and get right back to you.”

8. “I can’t do it.”

You attract what you think, and smart people know this (Power of Positivity, 2018). Henry Ford suggests that if you think you can’t do something, then you probably can’t. If you think you can, then you will find a way! Positivity breeds positivity.

9. “This will only take a minute”

This can undermine your skills or exaggerate your ability to realistically complete tasks. Unless you are able to literally complete a task in 60 seconds, feel free to say that it won’t take long, but don’t make it sound as though the task can be completed any sooner than it can actually be finished (Bradberry, 2020)

10. “I told you so.”

Smart people want to find solutions to problems rather than making statements which are interpreted as being childish. Fixing problems is an intelligent way to handle situations according to Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope you found it useful. Remember, we may have all used these phrases at some point in our lives and it does not measure our intelligence. As we get older, were get better at using our language in social situations which develops effective communication.

Watch this space for the next article.

Look after yourselves and keep safe!


Bradberry, T. (2020). Ten things smart people never say. [online] Ladders | Business News & Career Advice. Available at: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/ten-things-smart-people-never-say [Accessed 16 Jan. 2021].

PowerofPositivity (2018). 25 Phrases Smart People Never Say. [online] Power of Positivity: Positive Thinking & Attitude. Available at: https://www.powerofpositivity.com/25-phrases-smart-people-never-say/.

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