Why Highly Intelligent People Have Poor Social Skills

While reasoning comes easy to highly intelligent people, most of us with a high IQ experience a degree of social apprehension, lack social skills, and are branded socially incapacitated geniuses. Here's why...

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highly intelligent

If ignorance is bliss, is intelligence a curse? Are there any downsides to being highly intelligent? Intellectual capabilities are by far the greatest of gifts that a human being can possess. But the reality is: some of us are born smarter than others; some of us have higher than normal intelligence; and some of us, who are highly intelligent, are cursed in many ways.

Most of us don’t know there’s a neurological correlation between being socially awkward and being highly intelligent. While reasoning comes easy to highly intelligent people, most of us with a high IQ experience a degree of social apprehension, lack social skills, and are branded socially incapacitated geniuses.

It’s not because highly intelligent people are social fools, but because they see the world on an entirely different level than the rest of us. People who are socially anxious are usually highly intelligent and vice versa. Here’s why being highly intelligent is both a blessing and a curse:

  1. They overthink responses

Highly intelligent people have a keen eye for detail. They are overthinkers who constantly analyze everything happening in their life and beyond. They tend to ponder what they/others say/do and contemplate conclusions/solutions for a long time, which eventually interferes with their interpersonal relationships. By over-analyzing things, moreover, they distance themselves from mainstream conversations they think have little face value.

  1. They constantly self-doubt

“The problem with today’s world is that while intelligent people are full of doubts, the stupid ones are very self-confident” Charles Bukowski

As they possess a rather objective view, highly intelligent people are more self-conscious, have a higher degree of self-awareness, and constantly doubt themselves. Being hyper self-aware makes these individuals super conscious, critical, and judgmental in a social setting. They forget to go with the flow and get frustrated in social interactions.

highly intelligent

  1. They have high standards

Highly intelligent people know exactly what they want, what they talk, and what they do in every area of life. This is why they tend to have high expectations, both from themselves and from those around them. They know how to deal with logical situations, but social situations are not logical. When their expectations face the raw reality of life and people with average intelligence, they get anxious.

  1. They detest small talk

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people” Anonymous

Ordinary people gossip, laugh at each other, do stupid things for fun, and discuss mundane things like food, cosmetics, and soccer to keep a conversation going. Highly intelligent people find themselves out of place while socializing as they can’t summon up the enthusiasm to join in everyday conversations.

  1. They are aware of your state of mind

Brianna Wiest, American writer and founder of Soul Anatomy, says “highly intelligent people are highly attuned to how someone is thinking, feeling or perceiving a situation, a little bit beyond what would be appropriate and healthy to function without over-thinking, worrying and trying to react to someone’s perceived state of mind, rather than the reality they are presenting”. As a result, all they can think about is how much they’d like to escape.

  1. They suffer from general anxiety

Psychiatrists at SUNY Downstate Medical Centre in New York have found that higher levels of intelligence and increased levels of anxiety are linked. An anxious mind is constantly examining ideas, information, and experiences from multiple angles simultaneously. Thus, highly intelligent people find social engagement too overwhelming.

highly intelligent

  1. They are well-guarded

Highly intelligent people think analytically, even when it comes to things like interpersonal relationships. They have a harder time opening up because their analytical brain never stops reflecting back on past situations where they survived a not-so-pleasant experience.

  1. They hide their vulnerabilities

Highly intelligent people learn from their mistakes and change their behavior in response to failures. However, this cautious attitude robs them of essential social skills. No one wants to interact with someone who is unwilling to share their experiences; someone who inadvertently sends a signal that they are cold or distant; someone who never failed.

  1. They get obsessive

When highly intelligent people open up to topics that interest them, they become so heated and enthusiastic they tend to monopolize the conversation and appear as aggressively opinionated, know-it-all, and angry.

  1. They can’t avoid conflict

Highly intelligent people often end up in conflict with others because they unintentionally begin correcting others; act as an overly argumentative debater, and start being intellectually competitive in social conversations. These people are so brainy and on a different wavelength that it interferes with their ability to relate to others.


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12 COMMENTS

  1. It’s false that highly intelligent people are socially awkward to deal with. Some of the best comedians and actors were highly talented academicians. The society wilfully stagnates them cuz they through their narrow vision feel threatened by them. A loud mouth brat can have n number of girlfriends and a nerd can get rejected even if he’s having 16 packs.

    • Interesting observation, however many famous comedians and actors that are highly intelligent have also admitted to being very shy in person. What you often see in public or on stage is a character; the real person can be quite different.

    • Yes, as Jay pointed out, social situations are very different from acting and performing comedy. Social situations are usually unprepared for, while comedy and acting are trained for over a long period of time (even improv comedy is greatly prepared for using certain techniques). Comedy and acting have a direct financial and reputational incentive, while everyday small talk seemingly does not (although, especially in business situations, it does).

  2. I can relate to point 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9, I think that’s mean I’m highly intelligent.. I joke :p but that was interesting reading, good job

  3. I just…dont know what to say, I make a link between all these points. The fact is, I did an IQ test with a psychologist and in many categories, i got “Superior intellectual ability” like 99.7 percentile (compared to the average population) and i understood that only 0.3% of the population was better than me in this specific domain. I don’t want to be pretentious, not at all. But I can say i am proud of me (cuz’ I also have a adhd). When I read this text, I find that everything makes sense for me…it’s kinda satisfying. Yeah, for me, it’s a curse…When you always feel like you’ll always be alone because nobody can understand you, it is hard. When you try to talk to others but you don’t have the same interests, even if you try to be a nice guy (or girl) with them, you feel like you’re apart and you think, and think, again and again, if you don’t know how to control this, it’s a bit depressive, but the life is easier to understand, experience is easier to learn too. I only hope to find somebody that will match me, the only thing I ask is respect and fidelity haha. I think dialogue is the key. It’s just harder to express about what we are really thinking…. Anyway, have a nice day! (Writing is easier than talking for me ^^’)

    • I really liked your answer. I’m not highly intelligent but my boyfriend is (also with adhd). It’s causing me to rethink my relationship with him. For me, I feel inadequate, stupid even, when around him. I would like to make it work and that’s why I’m on here doing a little research. I would love to talk to you more as I don’t feel I can talk to him. I haven’t told him my concerns as I KNOW he wants more out of this relationship and he’s a great man but I’m having a hard time connecting with him. He is a very successful engineer, a gentleman in every aspect but, at the same time, displays little things that tell me something is different. The reason I feel I can’t talk to him is basicly, I don’t want to hurt him by making it sound like I almost think he’s autistic, or pointing out his adhd. This would be like pointing out a disability. I don’t think it’s a disability nor do I look at him in any way as disabled but rather highly intelligent and blessed. I guess the problem is, he seems to want to be with me but there is a lack of connection which maybe throws my own perception off. I take it as he doesn’t really likeme…or maybe more acuretly, doesnt find me attractive. Does that make sense? How do I perceive him correctly. Maybe, what signs do a highly intelligent person put out when attracted to someone? How can I tell he’s really wanting me for a relationship and not as a project that he needs to fix? Ugg…i know I’m rambling but This article was him! And you seem to maybe be the link to help us?? Someone neutral if you will? Hope you can help. Tasha.

  4. I have to agree with this article 100%. I have the IQ of a genius, and everything in this article is exactly what I feel like and act like. Having all of these social deficiencies is really hard and I would trade in my intelligence for good social skills any day. Another thing this website forgot to add is that we have trouble with friendships because we can say or do things that we aren’t aware of that can be offensive to the other person. In short, we are extremely insensitive, we say what we think. Other than that though I think this article got it spot on. I send my thanks to the author.

  5. This article used the comments and opinions of a writer who lists her experience as writing about Justin beiber! This is a pathetic fake article with NO real science behind it. Lazt garbage. her

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