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Why Smart People Have Poor Communication Skills – And What To Do About It

30 October 2007 | 22:00 | Attraction, Conversation Skills, Interpersonal Relationships, Parenting, Success | 38 Comments
Why Smart People Have Poor Communication Skills - And What To Do About It

On October 23, 1990, David Pologruto, a high school physics teacher, was stabbed by his smart student Jason Haffizulla. Jason was not a teenager you think would try to kill someone. He got straight A’s and was determined to study medicine at Harvard, but this was his downfall. His physics teacher gave Jason a B, a mark that Jason believed would undermine his ability to gain entry into Harvard. After seeing he received a B, Jason took a butcher knife to school and stabbed his physics teacher before being reprimanded in a struggle.

Two years following the incident in a New York Times article covering this story, it was reported that Jason raised his grade to 4.614, a grade that exceeds the perfect average of 4, by taking advanced courses. He graduated with highest honors.

How can someone as smart as Jason do something so dumb? Jason received above perfect grades and still emotionally lost himself by trying to severely wound his teacher. The answer? Smart can be dumb. I’m not saying smart is communication dumb, but in this article we’ll look at how intellectual intelligence can hurt the person’s emotional life, as studies show there is little or no direct relation between I.Q. and emotional intelligence.

This article may generate a fair bit of controversy, but I feel I give a balanced discussion in sharing my experience, knowledge, and getting you to think deeply about the topic. Whether you are intelligent, “mentally-challenged,” or curious about this topic in understanding those smart people in your life, I’m sure you’re bound to get some useful advice out of this article.

Being a somewhat smart guy myself, it’s painful to hear that intelligence, such a useful characteristic to possess, may be harmful. It is tough to imagine a quality that is so highly praised by everyone is detrimental to communication. For this reason, take a deep breathe now, relax, and open your mind to the possibilities of bettering your communication to improve your life.

During my early university years, I regarded myself as an intelligent guy. I was no Einstein, but I would get good marks in Mathematics, Physics, and other technical subjects. This lead me into starting a degree in Engineering, majoring in Mechatronics – an area of study that integrates mechanics, electronics, and computing. Basically, I would be able to design robotics and cybernetic systems – the wave of the future. Surely such skills would give me an edge in life.

After one year of study with decent marks, I began to see two major classes of students. The first was ones who would turn up to few lectures, party every weekend, enjoy a great social life, and do the minimum work to pass courses. The second class of students were intelligent, hard workers, got good grades, and were very focused on their studies. Surely these intelligent and hard working students would be the ones to get the jobs over the other, more “lazier,” class of student?

Not so. Students are often shocked when graduating that their qualifications are not as important as they once thought. They are guided to believe that their academic knowledge is all they need to get a great job and be successful. Students think that all power and success is derived from intelligence. Howard Gardner in Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences defines various types of intelligence and emphasizes that schools are too focused on logic and linguistic intelligence.

Graduates enter the workforce only to realize that co-workers hate them, less intelligent people are receiving promotions over them, and “suck-up” behaviour to the boss doesn’t get them very far. The students have the “hard skills” such as technical know-how, but they lack the “soft skills” such as conflict management and other human relational skills. The transition for intelligent people from being very goal-oriented to being process and people-oriented is usually realized through the hard school of knocks – experience.

If you’ve had some experience in hiring people, you know the importance of people skills. Without people skills, the educational skills become less useful. Sure, you can have great ideas, theories, and solve complex problems, but if you can’t effectively communicate that material in a persuasive and exciting manner by relating to your fellow human being, then you’re facing an uphill battle in whatever challenges you encounter. It’s not that people will dislike you because of your intelligence; it’s that people will dislike you because you’re rude, not understanding, or annoying to be around. The intelligent person with poor communication skills is insensitive, or just unaware, of another’s emotions.

It’s not that people will dislike you because of your intelligence; it’s that people will dislike you because you’re rude, not understanding, or annoying to be around.

Hopefully I can reveal the elusive obvious to you in this little exercise. I want you to think back to primary school or high school. Perhaps even college. Select the most memorable class to you.

I want you to categorize, and roughly rank, class members’ based on two sets of criteria: intelligence and popularity. You don’t need to go through every class member, but recall those at the end of each spectrum. That is, remember those who were the smartest in the class and those who were the most popular in the class. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, give a person a rank of ten in intelligence if you feel they were the most intelligent in the class. For the students who had lots of friends, give them a ten in the popularity category. Try to categorize roughly six students. If you have problems remembering, quickly write the ranks down on paper.

Now, with those students who you have ranked in one category, I want you to rank them in the other category. So if you’ve ranked the smartest student as a ten in the intelligence category, give the person a rank that you feel is appropriate in the popularity category. Do the same for the students you ranked in the popularity category.

Now that you’ve got several people in each of the two categories, think about the difference between each student. The purpose of getting you to do this exercise is in seeing the contrast between intelligence and people skills.

Genius Failure Paradox

Chances are if you are like most people and I, you would have noticed something distinguishable from doing the exercise. Those who were smartest in the class were generally not very popular due to poor social skills (I’m sure there are other similar measurements of poor communication than just popularity). They didn’t have good people skills. Presumptuous? I don’t think so.

This doesn’t mean all intelligent people have poor people skills or that all the unintelligent people have good people skills. I know people will say, “But I know someone who is smart and great with people.” Good. So do I. Intelligence and people skills aren’t mutually exclusive characteristics! Having one doesn’t mean you can’t have the other.

Smarter, wealthier, or generally people who have feelings of superiority, refuse to seek help in dealing with people.

What I’m proposing, which has been touched on and backed by a couple of authors and teachers, is that academically intelligent people may have poorer people skills than others. The genius failure paradox describes this in stating that smarter, wealthier, or generally people who have feelings of superiority, refuse to seek help in dealing with people. I’ll continue to explain why this is so throughout the article. (You can read more about superiority, inferiority, and the self-image.)

Saying that intelligence doesn’t equal success is nothing new. Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence, says that IQ is too narrow for indicating success. Your emotional intelligence is summarized in understanding your own emotions and the emotions of others. The implications of emotional intelligence are profound in communication and many areas in life. In his book he says, “Emotional Intelligence is a master aptitude, a capacity that profoundly affects all other abilities, either facilitating or interfering with them.”

Beginning at Childhood

A study titled Reading Difficulties, Behavior, and Social Status that was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, found that 81% of children referred to aggression and social behaviour as the number one reason for disliking another child. As children age, the researchers found that a child’s academic performance increased their peer acceptance.

The study also found that achievement and other factors are influential to peer acceptance. We do need to keep in mind that peer acceptance doesn’t equate to just social skills. Peer acceptance can increase due to one variable that is completely unrelated to communication. What we can take out of this study, is that right from the beginning of our social interactions, we are liked or dislike based on our behaviour and social skills.

Herpreet Kaur Grewal in an article titled Lack of Social Skills Can Make Poor Even Poorer, refers to a study done by the Institute for Public Policy Research. The study confirms that the economy is making interpersonal skills just as important as academic skills. She says, “Those with good social skills born into poor families are 14% more likely to be well-off by age 30 than a similarly under-privileged person with average social skills.” The study presents a few interesting points that are worth noting for the purpose of this article.

Firstly, social skills and other communication skills were found to be more important later on in life. Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing. When you were young, you could get away with yelling at other kids. You could even have a physical fight with little or no repercussions. However, should you punch someone at work in the face tomorrow (I hope I haven’t given you any thoughts!) because of your inability to resolve conflict, then the quality of your professional and personal life will greatly decline.

A second finding from the study that is of interest to us is that the best way children can develop the communication skills required for life are through organized activities. These groups should have children of varying ages, experiences, and interests, as well as adult leaders that provide guidance to the young group. The adult leaders typically have a goal they want the children to achieve together. Team sports are a good example of activities that fit the described criteria to help children develop their social skills. Even for mature adults, interacting with diverse individuals is sure to improve your communication skills.

Seeing that organized activities have such an impact on developing a child’s communication skills, it is logical to assume these activities influence an adult’s communication skills. The implications of these findings on this article are vague, but I present them to you for your curiosity. Do smarter people participate in fewer organized activities that fit the criteria of developing children’s social skills? Do smarter people participate in more singular extra-curricular activities like learning to play a musical instrument? Is their a trade-off between social interaction and increasing your intelligence? Do the less-intelligent individuals spend their time in these socially-beneficial activities instead of studying?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, one thing we do know is that social skills, and other communication skills, need to be practiced on a frequent basis. While people can naturally have the gift of the gab, be emotionally intelligent, or win friends very easily, these people will lose their skills without practice.

When a person has poor communication skills, I’ve often seen the case where they experience a “cyclic effect.” Their poor communication thwarts them from putting themselves in situations which require those communication skills, which further decreases their skills. Should a person have poor communication skills during their developmental and independent years, I believe they will struggle to improve the skill for several reasons – mostly an over-reliance on their intellect.


Intelligent people solve problems with their superior logic. They are presented with many problems which they solve using rational thinking. A dilemma arises when they attempt to solve emotional problems with their logic.

The logic dilemma is partly given birth from intelligent people loving information. Finding information makes their lives a lot easier. With the Internet being a superhighway of information, intelligent people are inclined to read, learn, and continue to analyse their issues.

However, communication skills are skills. Communication skills are not information. Any skill is developed through practice. If you’re an intelligent person, I still want you to learn about communication skills, but know that acting on your knowledge is more likely to be a bottleneck in your personal development; rather than more information.

Back to the logic dilemma, people are an illogical formula. For the smart people who don’t understand that, I’ll put in a way that you can understand. If people were a formula, they would be defined by 1 + 1 = 3. Logic and intelligence cannot explain the complexities of human emotion. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, emphasizes the importance of emotion in human relations and not focusing on logic. He says, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”

In my communication secrets of making people like you program, I define two distinguishing behaviors of those who fall into the logical trap. Firstly is a common mistake we all make – we point out the obvious. Stating the obvious is frustrating and emotionally ignorant. Some examples include:

  • “Breaking up with someone is tough. Don’t worry, there’s the right person for you out there some where.” – We all know there is someone out there for us. The trouble is in finding them.
  • “I can’t believe you burnt my toast. That’s stupid.” – Do you really think they burnt the toast on purpose?
  • “Wow. I’m so sorry to hear about the burglar breaking into your car. You really should have locked your doors.” – Thanks for the advice. Idiot!

The second common logical mistake is making factual statements. People make the factual statement mistake when they talk about an emotional issue with logic and rational. An indicator of this type of mistake is when someone says, “You don’t get it” or “You’re missing the point.”

As an example of the factual statement mistake, Jill is talking to Michael about her recent break-up. Michael is an intelligent guy. They two have been good friends for sometime, so Jill begins to “open herself up” and discuss her broken relationship. The emotions she is communicating are discomforting to Michael. As is common with smart people, Michael perceives Jill’s affliction and his own discomfort in clear terms. He doesn’t see muddled-up emotions. He sees pain; not resentment and anguish; or hatred; not partial likeness and hatred.

Michael wants to resolve the hurt Jill is experiencing. In his black and white world, Michael sees clear emotions, problems, and provides a solution. He may use his intelligence to give advice, provide reassurance, or create some other type of communication barrier. Intelligent people are used to seeing problems, knowing what is going on, and providing a solution. The logically driven communication Michael gives Jill is frustrating to her. Jill probably just wants someone to empathize with her, but Michael is blinded from his intelligence and thinking too much. He is too intent on resolving problems and providing advice.

Logical Strength and Emotional Weakness

Intelligent people seem to think that they are stronger than their emotions. They seem to think that they can suppress or ignore discomforting personal emotions. Daniel Goleman says that it is the fears, anxieties, anger, and other emotions that guide us in our everyday lives, “Even the most academically brilliant among us are vulnerable to being undone by unruly emotions.”

I don’t advocate being psychotic or annoying to people so that you can get all your bad emotions “out of your system.” For people such as Michael in our example, the problem is in the logical reasoning that the emotions can be ignored. They may see pain as a sign of weakness. As a result, the best way to deal with the emotional pain is suppression. The thought of not being able to solve a problem causes smart people to avoid the issue.

When intelligent people can’t resolve an issue, they will likely complain and blame others for the outcome. Their knowledge and past experience in solving problems causes them to look outside themselves for a reason as to why the problem still exists. Even when blaming outside influences, a smart person may conclude that because they have an unsolved problem, it can’t be solved or it isn’t worth the effort to solve.

Pat Wagner from Pattern Research, a Colorado company that provides organisations with a very diverse range of communication development programs, says smart people have a tendency to convert their self-diagnosed failings into virtues. They use their intellect to convert their emotional weaknesses into strengths. Pat terms them as smart flaws.

One particular smart flaw used by Pat that stood out for me, because I’ve been caught out using the exact same rationalizing to excuse myself, was not engaging in small talk because I reasoned it was a time waster. Now that I’m more aware of the most common smart flaws I use, I try to stop myself in my tracks and identify the real reason as to why I’m rationalizing my behavior. Whenever I don’t talk to someone because “it is a waste of time,” it could be because I’m not dealing with my emotions such as hiding: the fear of talking to strangers, feelings of unhappiness, or the anxiety that I’ll be boring.

This leads onto another emotional weakness smart people have, particularly guys when they want to approach a woman they like – fear. David DeAngelo, expert dating coach for guys, says, “A smart guy’s strength is his mind. His weakness is often his emotions. Smart guys are often immobilized by fear.”

Women wonder why a guy won’t come up and talk to her in spite of all the obvious signals she is sending in wanting him to approach her. When the guy wants to talk to a girl he likes, his analytical mind switches on. A million thoughts, scenarios, and potential problems go racing through his head. It becomes a psychological war.

The problem for intelligent people who think a lot is they think a lot.

The guy’s mind has served him very well in the past to get him where he is today. Ancestrally speaking, he’s been able to identify predators, threats, and dangers to protect himself and his tribe. The analytical mind has its purpose. However, the problem for intelligent people who think a lot is they think a lot! They have a tendency to map out everything before taking action. This may cause them to lose spontaneity and avoid doing things “in the moment” in fear of repercussions. Such behaviors may manifest themselves in the form of neediness, validation, and indecisiveness.

In social situations, over-analysing is a killer mistake to make. The intelligent people try to mind-read those they are talking to. They micro-manage their interactions based on their analytical feedback which drives their fear and uncertainty in conversations.

The next time you catch yourself micro-managing your conversations and worrying about what the other person is thinking, remember that the other person is likely to be more concerned with what you are thinking about them. Remind yourself that you can’t mind read and that trying to do so only creates anxiety. Live in the moment more often and you’ll notice people naturally becoming more attracted to you. You’ll know when you’re too careless about other people’s thoughts regarding you when you begin to damage relationships or hurt others.

A few last points I’d like to make on logical strength and emotional weakness deal with conversation. We hunger for emotionally connected conversations. We love drama, fun, and controversy. Facts, logic, and technical subjects are often boring and too complex. The emotional side of conversations is more engaging to people. Academically intelligent people may focus on logic too much. Women are especially interested in any type of drama. Watch their eyes light up when you talk about the latest celebrity fashion stuff-ups and other popular dramas.

Another emotional weakness, in addition to the subject of conversations, is the vocabulary used. Academics often use technical vocabulary to prove their intelligence – a killer of rapport. Simple, duh-duh, language is often more effective than technical linguistics and non-methodologically circumstantial language that no one gives a stuff about. The same goes for writing to keep people interested. I try to write in a casual way – similar to how a conversation goes; not technical stuff, things, and other types of stuff, you know? This last reason is why so many great findings in academic journals go hidden for years – because the general public can’t be bothered reading about it.

On that last point of being too technical for people, something that may interest you is how some people write emails to me. Yeah I teach communication, but that doesn’t mean being technical, using complex vocabulary, and trying to be intelligent helps in building rapport. You can tell the difference. One example of such a “technical” email is: “Dear Joshua. Allow me to extend my formal gratitude in your beautiful array of teachings…” The intent behind such emails is great. It’s just that the person you are talking or writing to when you trying to be intelligent doesn’t experience a “connection” with you. Lots of organisations are hopeless in this when handling complaints.

Let’s compare that previous example of an email with this other example: “Hey Joshua. Thanks heaps for the articles. I’ve learned that… You’ve helped me improve my relationship with my partner.” Can you sense the difference? The last example is more friendly, but not overly casual. The person in the first example who appears intelligent doesn’t “connect” because they are too technical. Even if you are intelligent and have a complex vocabulary, you need to use terminology that the other person uses if you are interested in building rapport. Don’t try and prove your intelligence. We are interested in improving your communication skills and not boosting your ego.

Equating Intelligence to Skills

Take a moment to imagine you have travelled back in time to the Stone Age with a really smart friend. You and your friend have just arrived at a dangerous landscape. You two guys are amongst a tribe who are being approached by a couple of ferocious sabre-toothed tigers. What would you choose: Do you get help from your intelligent friend? Or would you rely on tribe members, who are only half as intelligent as your friend, but you know they have been able to survive and adapt to their environment for years?

Our trip in time to the Stone Age shows us that intelligence doesn’t equate to survival and other important skills. Those in the Stone Age are no where near in equal intelligence to people today. I remember hearing a strange statistic that the decisions we make when reading a newspaper (such as skimming sections, understanding an article, and selecting what to read) in just one day, exceeds the total decisions made by those from prehistoric times in their lifetime. The information age means we are quickly becoming an intelligent society.

Intelligence doesn’t equate to effective communication skills.

Intelligent people need to acknowledge that they aren’t an expert in everything. Their intelligence doesn’t equate to effective communication skills. A person from the Stone Age is sure to teach you something. Instead of always having to be right, concede that you don’t know everything about communication. Find out the initial steps you need to take to develop expertise in an area of your interest. If you’re interested in becoming charismatic, find what you need to do first and continue asking those who have the skill what to do next – even though they may have less intelligence than you.

It’s funny how smart people sometimes think someone of lesser intelligence than them is inferior. They create a smart flaw by saying something like, “His friends are just weird. I wouldn’t want to be with them.” or “She isn’t mature like me. I’m not gonna be stupid to make friends.” I frequently have caught myself out in making similar statements. Someone with an IQ of 60 can have way better communication skills than you. Accept it. You’ll be more desirable in humbling yourself.

They Don’t Seek Help

What happens to intelligent people who are struggling in their social life? They keep quite. Intelligent people are so use to solving problems, being an expert, and logically working things out themselves that they refuse to ask others for help. They would rather freeze themselves with fear and uncertainty then ask someone about social skills. There are several very interesting reasons for this.

Not in all cases, but smart people will look down on those who are less intelligent. These people who are less intelligent may possess better social skills than the intelligent people, but there is “no way” an intelligent person can ask someone less intelligent for help. It is lowering, demeaning, and a sign of weakness to them if they were to ask for help – especially from someone who is less intelligent than them.

When helping an intelligent person improve their communication, it’s good to point out that their expertise will improve when working on their communication skills. Dale Carnegie talks about appealing to those characteristics you want in others to create those characteristics. Intelligent people know they are smart. One such statement in appealing to those good characteristics for changing the intelligent person’s behavior would go along the lines of, “You and I know you’re an intelligent person and improving your communication is another way of showing people your intelligence, expertise, and good skill-set.”

Another explanation for describing why smart people don’t get help, and a reason that I used to avoid having to ask others for help in developing my people skills, is that social skills are assumed to be natural. People skills can be a laughable skill to develop. If you need to develop your people skills, then you may get considered as a “loser.” Intelligent people can’t risk getting humiliated when asking for help, because it’s a sign that they “suck.” They need to maintain their feelings of importance and not feel inferior that is brought by seeking help.

It’s easy to talk about the importance of seeking help, but being able to do it is different. No one person on their own can gather the necessary life skills to overcome personal problems and succeed. We all have different natural abilities and experiences, and hence we require varying degrees of help. There is no shame in seeking help; only shame in not seeking help.

Someone who is of less intelligence than you doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from them. The areas of life that I consider myself very knowledgeable and an expert in, I find it very difficult to consider that someone with less intelligence, or even less skill than me in that area, can teach me something. I need to constantly remind myself that there is no shame in asking others for help and that I can learn something from everybody.

Once I remove my ego and pride, I actually find myself happier and more knowledgeable than I was before. People will be attracted to you when you’re not obsessed with always being right. Besides, asking them for their advice is sure to make them feel important and increase your personal magnetism. You don’t need to play dumb, but not showing off your intelligence to show superiority will win you friends because we hate feeling inferior to people.

“It is a real recommendation to be stupid,” says Arthur Schopenhauer. “For just as warmth is agreeable to the body, so it does the mind good to feel its superiority; and a man will seek company likely to give him this feeling, as instinctively as he will approach the fireplace or walk in the sun if he wants to get warm. But this means that he will be disliked on account of his superiority; and if a man is to be liked, he must really be inferior in point of intellect.”

There a millions of lessons waiting out there for you to take. You just need to drop your ego in order to see them. Don’t let your ego blind you from the many lessons humanity has out there for you. Doing so will prove your expertise more so than stubbornness.

I hope the article has provided you with some deep insight – whether you are an intelligent person or know of someone who is intelligent that lacks good communication skills. While intelligence is certainly very beneficial for succeeding in today’s society, effective communication skills will have you better relating to your fellow human beings. Intelligence is something you can do without, but you can’t avoid people.

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38 Responses to “Why Smart People Have Poor Communication Skills – And What To Do About It”

31 Oct 2007, 1:28 am

Dear Joshua, I m in a hurry so I’ll try to be concise.
I like your article, and I find it very interesting, but there are some things in your approach that I disagree with.
For example, I don t like your presumed equation between intellingence and hard work. (You seem to presume that a hard working student is more intellingent than the one who passes exams with minimum amounts of studies. You contradict yourself later on by saying that the “less intelligent” students often end up more succesful. Could it be that sometimes those whom you presume to be less intelligent because they dedicated more of their student time socializing were the ones who grasped the faults of the school system better than the “intelligent ones” who were, as you say, convinced that good grades would assure them high positions? Or that, contrary to your argument, some of the hardest working students are aware of the limits of their intelligence, and are trying to recuperate it with high grades? Finally, that some of the most intelligent students, are often the least competitive ones, and that they prefer handing in the first prize to someone else for the fear of being left alone?

I am talking to you from a perspective of a student who entered elementary school with a proposal to skip the first grade due to the high level of preparation (thing which my parents did not accept), and that has spent most of her student years scheduling friends first and school second, thing that did not subtract me the status of the “most intelligent person in class”, according to many professors (even those who did not give me the highest grades often said this). How was I more intelligent if I partied every weekend, and what was the criteria of these professors, if they refered to me as more intelligent than those who were given higher grades than me?
Again, I like your article, but judging one’s intelligence based on the quantity of time he dedicated on studying would be like making a conclusion that someone was less intelligent than you based on the incorrect English grammar in his letter, without knowing that except from English, this person spoke other 3 languages on a daily basis.

31 Oct 2007, 1:37 am

PS I agree with your thesis that intelligent people might have less social skills, and I think the answer behind it might be the lack of need. It is clear that language is born out of human’s need for cooperation (as well as all other sorts of communication). Most intelligent people might be those who have more inclination (and are more accustomed) to doing things on their own, rather than relying on others.
Another interesting point might be: why do the intelligent people often seem to least capable of “small talk”? (and, what is the social function of small talk?)

Joshua Uebergang
31 Oct 2007, 6:43 am

When I was talking about the students, you’re right in saying that I assumed the hard working are intelligent. Hard working and intelligence don’t always go together – I definitely agree with you. I don’t have the perfect profile or stereotype of an intelligent student so I just created what is generally assumed.

One particular friend from school stands out for me with what you’re saying. He was so smart that he could complete complex Maths equations within minutes that most of us spent hours on just trying to figure out where to start. The problem was, he was the most laziest out of everyone. Since then I’ve heard he still spends half of his day playing computer games and drinking. And oh, he never had good social skills.

Well, there’s two reasons we have small talk with others: 1) Achieve goals and fulfill needs or 2) Build our identity. It was Aristotle who explained that humans are a social animal.

sulagna chatterjee
31 Oct 2007, 12:51 pm

hi joshua..very observation driven article..honestly i agree with you when you say”intelligent” people lack social skills but the quaetion is that perhaps they never get the time or ahve the inclination to we say “geeks” but any reason why they behave this way??

Captain Lampat
31 Oct 2007, 12:59 pm

Your article is true and to the point. It halped me to understand mysely more. In addition, my workplace (a Junior College), is littered with intelligent people who have little or NO social skills. They also know how to mis-communicate very well…it is bad, very bad. They have no use for people’s emotions, and I long to retire. I won’t see them again after that, ’cause I do not intend to go to hell!!


31 Oct 2007, 3:07 pm

Hi Joshua, this is one of the most interesting articles I have ever read. It has very profound facts derived from research and that’s good work. I agree with you that at later years of life one needs more of social skills than intelligence. Also am happy to know that I can learn something from anyone whether they are intelligent or not.
You are doing good work and please help us the “intelligent” to appreciate social and communication skills.
God BLess you.

Tess Poblete
31 Oct 2007, 3:32 pm

Dear Joshua,

Thanks so much for sending me this article. It is logical that most intelligent people have poor communication skills since they seldom relate with others except their own kind. And so, their problem solving is often on the rational level and not on the experiential. They can not speak all what are in their minds because their mental processing is too fast that it difficult to grasp all at one time.

I enjoyed reading your article. It is fortunate that I am in the field of applied social science and at times, there are technical people who come to me for help how to convey their research findings in a manner understandable to ordinary people in the communities affected. Despite of that, I learned much from your article.

More power to you and congratulations for this article. I know that you are being used by God for others to lern.


31 Oct 2007, 4:43 pm

Hi Josh, would you think that having good communication skills has a greater advantage than having a higher than average IQ.

Blessing Igumbor
31 Oct 2007, 4:44 pm

Hi Joshua, great work you made my day, l had to read it out to my fellow workers who are having problems here, l now realise why less intelligent people get promotion more than us who are smart!!

Thanks a billion no a trillion!!!

Sharbari Saha
31 Oct 2007, 4:45 pm

I DEFINITELY agree with you. since many such intelligent people are in high manegerial positions who have poor communication skills,it does becomes so difficult to work
with them or work under them.
It was wonderful to read your article.
Do keep mailing.

31 Oct 2007, 6:02 pm

i dont think all intelligent people look down on others as inferior. sometimes they just do not know where to begin since they are only taught to excel. maybe with such articles, there will be a remarkable improvement in the social life of intelligent people. let us just try to be there for them and not cast them to hell like it is of their own making to be very intelligent. also please forward the article to as many people as possible.
thank you Joshua

31 Oct 2007, 7:42 pm

Thank you, that was a great article. I found a lot of useful information for myself and I think many others will as well. One thought though – who is actually “intelligent” and by whose standards? I think to make your point more understandable it helped to label some as “intelligent people”, but IQ tests and academic achievement alone don’t always prove that so-called “intelligent people” are more logically proficient than “less intelligent people”. We all possess different skills of different magnitudes and nobody owns an intellotometer that I know of. If you are able to use your brain to manipulate, motivate, and inspire others, isn’t that a sign of “intelligence”?

I really liked the article, but I have my own personal struggle with how people label one another. It may seem pretentious, seeing that to distinguish one group from another you sometimes need labels, but I think the intelligent and unintelligent groups have a lot of overlap.
That’s why I liked the bit on “dropping the ego”. People shouldn’t always assume that they are more intelligent than another based on occupation, income, or schooling. Like you said, there are lots of lessons humanity has to offer, and assuming that oneself is more intelligent than another may lead to a predisposed attitude that doesn’t allow oneself to fully take in and appreciate all there is to be learned by someone, say… less than “intelligent”.

Thank you again for the arcticle. There is no doubt that maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships is a key to success. Your mention of dropping the ego is a good reminder for me, not that I’m so egotisical, but we all need to remember that sometimes other people can make us better and smarter people.

Joshua Uebergang
31 Oct 2007, 11:51 pm

Thanks guys for your insightful feedback. It’s always nice to hear everyone’s thoughts and experiences on the topics I write about.

Geoffery, I’m glad you found it that interesting!

Brian, yes. Not all intelligent people look down on those who are less intelligent. I’ve been guilty a tonne of times though. The inferiority complex can suck bad and make people be very judgmental of others. There’s constant comparing of people.

Niki, personally I think good communication skills will get you a lot further in many areas than just a high IQ. The intelligence quotient often just predicts educational achievement. Education doesn’t mean much on its own. Having said that, some people succeed in vocations like mathematics with a high IQ and poor communication. Generally, good communication and emotional skills will take you further. CEOs get hired for their intelligence and fired for their personality.

Get Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence if you’d like to learn more about IQ and interpersonal skills. This is really the groundbreaking booking that amplified the worldwide shift away from IQ making or breaking your success.

Robert Sternberg, a Yale University Professor of Psychology, has a book called Successful Intelligence: How Practical and Creative Intelligence Determine Success in Life. You’ll learn some good things by just reading the reviews on Amazon and what the book is about.

Here’s some links that may be of further interest:
Impact of EQ
Just For Youth… Is Intelligence the Most Important Factor for Success

Alex, yeah. I don’t have any definite “model” of what intelligence is. Many people have differing opinions. In the article I mostly referred to intelligence as academic performance. Thanks for commenting.

felix petiafo
01 Nov 2007, 12:47 am

This is a brilliant article. It is indeed an eye opener to me. Keep it up. Thank you

01 Nov 2007, 1:52 am

hi joshua,

brilliant as always!I very strongly feel the same too. this was quite a breather. there were things i knew but u put them in words so well that i thought i was gaining newer insights into them..literally.

i would like to discuss one characteristic of human nature (generally speaking) which would be a deviation from the laws of intelligence vs people skills you have discussed so far.. that is the unconditionally accepted notion by relatively unintelligent people – their population is definitely larger and so is the consequence of their notion- that an intelligent person is supposed to be emotionally stable, mentally sound & self sufficient at all stages of life.. otherwise he/she stands to lose the pedastal they have been placed on.. this invariably places a huge responsibility on the intelligent variety who have no respite except masking their smallest needs ,weaknesses or shortcomings inspite of desperately needing help . They would gladly ask for help from any Tom , Dick, Harry very naturally and humbly if they were not subjected to
this instant crucification. They say “it takes years to build and a moment to destroy”. Heavy price to pay which forces the refined lot to bottle up most of the times.

Neverthless a very insghtful article.Definitely- you need to be a good human being but you cannot do without good people skills.

Ayuba Olusola
01 Nov 2007, 3:06 am

Dear Joshua,
I am greatly impressed by this research and let me say thank you for sending this insightful article.
I will surely get back to you on this topic very soon.
Ayuba O. (Nigeria)

Joshua Uebergang
01 Nov 2007, 4:00 pm

bhavyata, maybe that’s another reason why they don’t get help in areas such as people skills.

M, I don’t understand how this article isn’t practical. There are many skills I provide in it.

01 Nov 2007, 2:41 pm


Thank you for the great article, I’ve learned a lot! I always struggle to communicate my needs, especially in the workplace. Is it possible to give us more practical advice, e.g. like smiling when talking, or maybe looking someone in the eyes or whatever it takes to get the message across with the correct – or more acceptable – means over?



Tolulope Ipinmisho
01 Nov 2007, 5:39 pm

Thank you very much Josh. you always have this way of bringing materials that brighten my day. i am really glad you posted this to me keep up the good work. God bless you!!!

evans reuben wandera
01 Nov 2007, 10:28 pm

this article is superb! It is practical and has a positive impact on whoever reads it. I feel encouraged by it motivated………….make it real brother. Thanks alot.

02 Nov 2007, 4:44 am

It’s a great article. You have chosen a great topic. I teach business communication, but this article rises important questions that needs to be considered yet.

02 Nov 2007, 3:50 pm

its really a good article n i enjoyed reading it
There is one thing that I dislike about me and due to this I cant take full benefit of my potentials…..I ve problem initiating the professional conversation and If I start often there are important points which I forget during my conversation that leave my meeting uneffective…

Could you help me sending the useful tips??

02 Nov 2007, 7:24 pm

This is sure good.It will help a lot of people find their footing with proper expressions and public speaking.

02 Nov 2007, 8:19 pm

Hi Joshua,

Thanks very much for sharing this wonderfull understanding about people skills.
I’m always egar to improve my communication skills. I used to think that I’ve good communication skills but after reading this article I realized that I need to learn a lot in that area.

I especially like the line

“Once I remove my ego and pride, I actually find myself happier and more knowledgeable than I was before. People will be attracted to you when you’re not obsessed with always being right. Besides, asking them for their advice is sure to make them feel important and increase your personal magnetism.”

This paragraph has changed my perception that I have to be right when I talk/communicate people and it really leads me toward fear of being wrong. And I used to think that it is my IQ problem but after reading this article I realised that it is my EQ problem.

I’m oblized for your sharing and say your kind of persons are the really serve society better.

thanks very much.

04 Nov 2007, 8:09 am

Love your article on Why smart people have poor communication.I personally agree with this concept because intelligent people are focusing on getting ahead and sometimes being too competitive in life,that the don’t realize that they are’nt socializing much and by the time they are ready to interact with other people they feel out of place.

06 Nov 2007, 11:45 pm

Hey Josh,

Good stuff you did with your atticle. However, i do not quite agree with the meanings you attached the words, smart and intelligent. My take is that, a person can be smart or intelligent in one area, yet an absolute duns in another. Smartness and intelligence are relative to situations and experience. I’ll leave it here for now. Do keep up the good work.

08 Nov 2007, 5:21 am

I love it so much. You always come up with things that I really enjoy reading. I always reap the best from your articles. Go on and thanks.

28 Dec 2007, 5:12 pm

hi friend, often i think why i have small talk and unwiiling to get others help,but now i got results,
Thank you very much for u r advice through this article.

04 Jan 2008, 4:18 pm

Amazing I couldn’t agree more and me coming right out of college has been like a storm of a new world which I will be following with less ego

05 Feb 2008, 7:58 pm

wonderful article.. answers everything.. all the doubts

Kavitha Sridhar
04 Mar 2008, 1:11 pm

:smile: It would be better for me to get it as a mail, instead of entering into the link. I am looking forward to improve on the communication skill, since i am being as HR, i would like to build this skill in a profession way.

Give me and help me in improving on my skills. Your tips please.

Thanks for the service. Keep doing.

22 Mar 2008, 5:20 pm

:razz: thanks for all.
I’m finishing my MA thesis so I need these information.
It’s useful materials.

25 May 2008, 4:13 am

…so I was researching communication skills for a school paper and I stumbled across this article written mostly about me! :lol: Good work – and thank you…now I know how annoying I am! Rupesh, comment #24, nailed it.

Jaspreet Singh
10 Jul 2008, 6:27 pm


I Agree wid ur every single word….Because i can c myself in every single word you wrote..even i can associate wid everything….but from 2 years i do go out always seek help and now i do m a good communicator….still i do get sm problems bt dat r 2 optional..
Now my life is 2 fun..
yes people like us hv fear approaching even grl..because we think what she vl think…or what vl happen..
We r gud @ studies…bt now after ur education….we r gud @ Social life life is all fun and work is fun 2..
Gr8..article..i thnk u should get noble prize fr dat..
Dont take it seriously i ws jst joking..haha..luk d fun…
now i tease people all d time..
Gud job keep it up..

09 Sep 2008, 10:20 pm

hi Joshua!

thnax a lot for putting such soul guiding articles online..let me tell you very interesting story which my grandmother used to tell me in childhood, before sleeping hours..

… when God was creating human being, firstly he created a physical body made of mud and dust and then he decided to put life into that, he covered the body with five energy levels,also called levels of conciousness, one by one, in the order of increasing superiority and dominanace… at once he was in a mess, whether to put level of emotional conciousness upper than level of intellectual conciousness or vice versa… he reflected a lot.. and finally consulted with his wife (goddess).. and finally put emotions above than intellect and so created something called “great human beings”, and given them a beautiful world called earth to live, to form communities,to share, to dream and hence to develop.

…the story ends here, but not the morale.

Infact all this stuff you can find in “Vedas”..the oldest pool of knowledge.

Even today we see emotions dominating intellect in all “major” walks of life… people are ruled by emotions not by intellect.. in any nation or constitution the supreme power or control is given to someone coming through vast experiences of “public life”, not to intellectuals… that is why democracy is preferred… that is why a manager is paid more than an engineer.

the views and the debate,never come to an end…so lets other quote on this.


11 Oct 2008, 5:37 pm

I am a very intelligent person and also a social retard. I recently graduted from college with a degree in Civil Engineering. My social retardedness exists because even though I have good intentions, I don’t know how to begin a conversation. Even if I get into a conversation with somebody, I have no idea how to keep it going. As a recent graduate, I am realizing this ineptitute is keeping me from getting a job.
It has been said that intelligent people seldom relate to others except to their own kind. That isn’t true. Do to our lack of social skills, we have trouble talking with each other. This puts us in further isolation.
Because of my social awkwardness, I have been shunned by other people. This has further driven my abilities, which in turn has brought further isolation. Now you see the cycle. For the longest time, because of being isolated socially, I have been more inclined to doing things on my own rather than relying on others.

11 Dec 2008, 5:33 pm

I am very happy to hear that after 18 yrs after my fathers attack people are still writing articles and expressing there thoughts about this topic. It was a terrible tragic that occured and to this day and still cannot seem to grasp how a person with such a high IQ and high level of “book knowledge” could lack so much general knowledge in knowing right from wrong. If anyone knows how to contact the author of Emotional Intelligence- Goleman I would appreciate it. I have been trying for years. Unfort my father passed away over a year ago, but the fact that people still recall this event and express thoughts about it means a lot to our family!!
Thanks Josh

Joshua Uebergang
11 Dec 2008, 10:21 pm

Hi Kelli. Sorry to hear about your father’s passing. I’m happy though, he was able to spend another 17 years with you.

You can try contacting Daniel at his website:

I know he’s written about your incident before. It might have been in his EI book.

Best of luck,

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