4 Reasons Highly Intelligent People Are Often Socially Inept

smartness and shyness

In my years of teaching people how to overcome shyness or social anxiety, there’s something weird that I’ve noticed.

I’ve seen this PATTERN so many times now that it can’t be an accident…

I call it “The Socially Inept Genius Puzzle.” This is the tendency for unusually smart people to have very LOW levels of social skills or confidence.

After thinking about this for a long time, I’d like to share my thoughts about it with you. Why is it that some very smart people can be so socially inept or socially awkward?

If you’re still reading this far, then you probably consider yourself more intelligent than average man or woman. Maybe you excelled in school or you couldn’t understand why all your classmates were only interested in pop music and celebrities… when you mostly cared more about exploring the world deeply with your mind.

At this point in your life, your smart mind has probably given you many advantages over others. It’s probably helped you out in school, maybe landing a degree, performing well at your job, and so on.

However, this smart mind can be worse than useless when it comes to…

Your Social Skills and Confidence

By the way, I did say worse than useless.

It can be like trying to use a screw driver to hammer in a nail. Using the wrong tool for the job just makes you perform much worse.

For most of my life, it was hard for me to imagine how my smart mind could ever hurt my chances for success, but this is one of those situations.

So I’ve put together this short list of ways your intelligence makes you FAIL in social situations… and what to do about it.

1. They Seek Information Instead of Developing Skills

standing on edge beachMy dad was a welder for many years, and do you know how he learned? Through practice. Doing something over and over again is what allows you to develop a skill.

Sure, there’s some basic training you NEED to go through, but to go from being bad to good in a skill… you’ll have to put in the time and effort.

Yet there’s a lot of socially inept people who don’t treat social skills in this way. Instead they look for the one last magic piece of information that will solve all their problems. Like looking for a fool proof conversation starter that will work every time in any situation. (This doesn’t exist.)

Social skills are just that… SKILLS.

They’re not social INFORMATION.

They’re not social THEORIES.

They’re social SKILLS.

And you don’t get them by THINKING about them, you get them by GETTING them.This means you’ll learn more by in one hour of actually getting out of the house and talking to people than you will in ten hours of “education”.

You get better by doing, by practicing at least a few times a week.

2. They Think Too Much

Do you ever notice how so many people out there who are extremely confident and socialize effortlessly also happen to be…

Downright stupid!

And the people who are really smart may be unsure of what to say, or afraid of opening their mouth to make a fool of themselves. Oh, what a backwards world we live in!

Let’s think about this:

Why can people who SUCK at thinking, reasoning and logic… be total MASTERS when it comes to socializing? And why do you find it so difficult to make conversation confidently when you probably “deserve” to do so more than those idiots?

It’s because being social and contributing to a conversation is not a problem to be solved by thinking. It’s more about an energetic and spontaneous expression of how you’re feeling.

I took some improv theater classes for a few months. This is a type of theater that is totally spontaneous… all the actors/students have no scripts… they just blurt out the first thing that comes into their head.

This situation seems like a nightmare for a smart and shy person… but you should really try it out sometimes even if it seems scary.

The biggest lesson I learned from those classes was to rely more on speaking from my GUT feeling and instinct instead of trying to carefully plan and think through everything I said.

Most shy and socially anxious people are the exact opposite of “spontaneous.”

If you can’t think of what to say, you probably go on thinking and thinking and thinking. Racking your brain to come up with some good and interesting conversation topic to talk about.

Never realizing that THINKING TOO MUCH is the main reason you have a problem speaking up more to begin with!

To learn more about how to overcome this, I recommend you read my article: Don’t Know What To Talk About? Here’s Why

3. They Psych Themselves Out

Some psychologists have called the mind a “simulation machine.” Your mind is designed to remember the past or simulate the future to help you survive in life.

If you can imagine yourself dying after walking off the 10th storey of a building, you probably won’t step off the edge, will you?

Well, smart people take this FUTURE SIMULATING and RISK AVOIDING nature of the brain way too far sometimes. How? By coming up with all of the reasons why everything WON’T WORK when it comes to social situations.

You may use your amazing creative imagination to vividly imagine all the horrific way you will fail. And you figure out every little way something could go wrong.

For example, maybe there’s a girl you want to ask out on a date. But then your mind imagines you creating an awkward silence after you say “Hi”… And you imagine her saying “No”… and then her telling everyone else in the world about what a loser and a creep you are… and then you have to see her every day still and try to avoid feeling super awkward.

Are you getting the picture here?

Imagining the worst that can happen causes you to not even try. You probably avoid a lot of parties, conversations and social situations for fear of the worst happening… all thanks to your smart mind which has made you see all the “risks.”

Now, if you’ve thought something through and come up with a good reason why it would fail, it makes sense to not do it, right?

I mean, why would you want to do things that are going to fail?

It is sound logical, but it’s HORRIBLE thinking when it comes to the REAL WORLD… and overcoming shyness and social anxiety.

Because shy and socially anxious people have a tendency to OVERESTIMATE. You waaaay overestimate the probability that something bad will happen, and you overestimate the consequences if something bad did happen.

Usually, failure is not as big a deal as your mind makes it out to be. You ask a girl out, she says no… and life goes on. You feel bad about it for a few days, and within 2 weeks you no longer really remember it much. And beyond that…

The little failures are necessary to improve your skills. Failing in one conversation is not nearly as bad as the consequences of avoiding taking risks in general… this is what lead to ULTIMATE FAILURE.

4. They Can’t Deal With Fear And Other Emotions

spock logicAn intelligent person’s strength is often their logic, which means their weakness is emotions.

When it comes to dealing with emotions… a lot of smart people (guys especially) become totally uncomfortable and frozen. Maybe they start to repress or run away from the emotions… especially the bad ones like fear. Fear of being rejected, fear of opening up and connecting with others, and so on.

Many people would rather DIE in lonely isolation than admit that they don’t know how to deal with their emotions… or, GOD FORBID, ask for help!

Hey, I went for YEARS like this. I know what it’s like. But the reality is that anyone can learn to handle and even MASTER their emotions (even fear)…if they just take the time and effort to learn HOW to do it.

If this is you, then do yourself a big favor… take the time. Take the effort. Don’t worry about whether someone else will look down on you for studying “self help.” What matters is you doing the things that YOU need to do FOR YOU.

I think the reason why I’m so fascinated with “The Socially Inept Genius Puzzle” is because I had to struggle with all of these issues for a lot of years of my life.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m the smartest guy on the planet… Yet it always bothered the hell out of me that even though I was so good at figuring things out… …I couldn’t figure out what I was missing when it came to being good at conversations and social skills like other people.

Something tells me that you know what I’m talking about.

Well, after beating my head against the wall for a few years… trying all kinds of crazy stuff… I finally got the bright idea to start studying people who were “naturally” good socially. By carefully studying what the “naturals” did and said in conversations… and learning how their minds worked… I began to realize that social skills weren’t LOGICAL at all.

I was doing many things in a fundamentally wrong way, and the more I tried to “fix” my problems, the less progress I made. Much of what I learned was very tough for me to accept… because my logical brain just didn’t want to buy into it. It’s like that quote that goes:

“You cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking which created it.”

That’s what becoming more confident and skilled socially is like. It took me quite a long time, but I continued to learn, test, and refine what I was learning until I personally figured out how to overcome shyness and social anxiety…

I learned how to become confident and talkative whenever and wherever…

I learned how to build a social circle of friends from scratch…

And once I got this area of my own life together, I decided to start helping other shy and socially anxious people get this area of THEIR lives together. In fact, I created a whole system to help you do it.

The Shyness and Social Anxiety System

For now, I’d recommend you sign up for my email newsletter in the box below. This will let you receive my latest tips and advice on how to stop being shy, quiet or awkward in social situations:

About the author

Sean Cooper

I study all areas of psychology, sharing what works (and what doesn't) for overcoming shyness and social anxiety. After curing my own severe social anxiety I created "The Shyness and Social Anxiety System" to help others. This program has received stunning reviews from psychologists and people like you.

Now it's my life's mission is to help 25,000 people get the confidence, friends and romantic partner you want!

Read more about me here.

88 Comments

  • Fascinating article! I am guilty of all of the above, although attempt to break the patterns every time I’m in a social situation. It helps that I’ve made quite a few friends who love to socialize, and who have no clue about my Social Anxiety Disorder. It’s something I’ve kept under wraps for my entire life because…you guessed it…admitting to it would make me feel weak!

    One thing I’ve noticed, that as long as alcohol is involved, my SA virtually disappears. When I’m drunk, I feel like a normal person – relaxed, confident, funny & social. Now I’m not saying that everyone with SA should get wasted 24/7 – if my liver could handle such events, I would have no more worries. But since that’s not possible, I try to take lessons from how I feel while intoxicated & carry them over into my sober interactions with people. It helps. And so does forcing yourself into social situations. I agree that sitting at home in fear will do nothing to advance your skills. Getting out among people and temporarily turning off your thinking cap is the best way to go.

    • Great advice, Christy!

      You’re right that alcohol can give insight into SA. The main benefit of why people drink is because it removes thinking and inhibition, but there are much healthier ways to improve social skills without getting wasted all the time!

    • Thank you for posting this article, I only wish I had read it 10 years ago in lieu of years of trial and error.

  • Wao I was surprised by the things i read in there. Although I really can tell if I am intelligent or not. When I was in School, I was really shy and a quiet type of person. I was abused by my mother and also she did anything she could to dropp my self-esteem. Ever since I was rejected by community I notice that every teacher liked me very much because I always liked to participate in class and learn something new. Even though I wasn’t given the necesary attencion from my parents, I wanted to grow up to be a real man and be very inteligent to help people and understand their feelings. still early in my teens I was very quiet but not shy because I also talked with my friends and loved spending time with me yet with girls I did felt shy because I felt I wasn’t good enough to be with someone beautiful or cute. I just notice that I have become very smart and I love to use it alot when I see the chance and help people. yet, I think you make a good point about that we don’t make a move because I never talk with girls unless I see an open spot to enter myself on the conversation or I see a friend talking with her. I dont know why but sometimes I feel that girls that draws alot of attention gets the tendecy to feel that every guy that tries to get her attention talks to her because he wants a relationship with her or anything from her, That is why I never talk to them unless they are my friend but if it is a stranger, I won’t Xd

    As for emotions, I love to work with them when before they use to be a weakness. I guess I have become a smart person who is thinking about his weaknesses and solve them to become a better person. after all, sometimes i strive for perfecion as a person even thought no one is meant to be one but I like to feel that I am someone, I am strong and special.

  • I’m guilty of all that, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with too much thinking. I’d rather be miserable and smart than a moron. It’s a good article, but it makes me a little angry. I have BPD, OCD and anger problems…I have a chemical imbalance in my brain which I was born with, so it’s kind of not my fault really. I was born mentally ill and fucked up and my fate was already sealed as soon as I came to the world. Stupid people are irritating and I want to punch them, they’re so stupidly happy and the world is a shit hole and everyone should have a negativce view on things, so they become realistic.

  • And funny enough, you’re wrong about many things. First off, I tried to be sociable, I’m myself around people and they HATE it. My personality sucks anyway. To be honest, it’s the OTHER people who need to get themselves checked. They can’t even have an intellectual conversation. I mean, being emotionally unstable and dealing with mental illness and noticing it since the age of 4 and now an 18 year old, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve reflected on things…sometimes it’s useful to do that and other times, not so much…Sorry if that last comment seemed …drab. My moods are constantly up and down and it’s nothing to do with my hormones, oh no, it’s WORSE than PMS or anything to do with hormones…infact can be worse than bipolar and has gotten to that point at times. I don’t like to be told anything. I do agree on a lot of the things you have pointed out, but some of the things you’ve put on here are inaccurate in a way and are irritating to say the least. Again, sorry for sounding like a pompous bitch, guess that’s just who I am. Don’t take it too personally, cause my mood will change in 10 minutes, probably and I’ll feel bad about posting this…but at the same time, stick by what I’ve said. x3

    • You seem like a very interesting person, Amy. Thanks for being so open and honest. I can relate to some of the things you said, or at least understand where you are coming from. I think it’s cool that you can be so honest about yourself. I try to be very open and honest, too. Unfortunately, I think that is one of the things that seriously derails my social efforts. I find “schmoozing” to be very distasteful and I am no good at it at all. The couple times I’ve tried it, I felt really creepy afterward.
      I think people don’t really want honesty, even when they say they do and when I try to give it in a non-threatening, constructive manner. And I feel like people don’t believe me when I’m honest about myself and when I say I really do want honest feedback.
      I feel like there has to be some sort of balance where I can be open and honest, but not have it scare people off, but so far the means to do that has eluded me. In addition to us being “too smart for our own good,” I’m curious if anyone else has this issue with honesty/straightforwardness being a roadblock to social success that they can’t get around.

  • What you wrote was pretty interesting. If you are talking about IQ scores and academic performance being the backbone behind someone’s intelligence? EI(Emotional intelligence) is very important when observing how an individual functions in society. You didn’t really talk about emotional intelligence. At the same time, it is possible for an individual to have both a high IQ and a high EI. I’m one of them. My IQ is a 4 points over 160. I’m also very sociable, friendly and able to sustain conversations with ease. I’m never shy. Do the math 🙂

    Final comment: I believe the “social outcasts” are who you are talking about. Anyone can be classified as geeky or nerdy. To conclude, I read a lot of books; love information; love science; audio; and so many other things. It’s more-so becoming socially inept overtime due to limited positive social interaction in younger years – and suffering for it later.

  • I think this is a very insulting article in that I am a highly intellectual being. Smart people can and do have social lives, and CAN deal with and understand emotions!

      • Agreed Katelyn 🙂 As David Dunning rightfully puts, “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

      • There you are Anonymous, typical ignorant who feels threatened when someone is confident about their intelligence. It is fun to predict a comment before reading it.

        This is how I imagine your thought process:
        1: Person confident about his/her intelligence detected
        2: Instant comparison to yourself and feeling of inferiority
        3: At this point you have two choices, asume reality or find an excuse
        4: You found the excuse, you think that person is not that intelligent, instead he/she is just arrogant, that thought makes you feel better.
        5: You feel better because you found an excuse but is not enought, you think that person deserves a punishment for not hiding his/her superior intelligence.
        6: You attack that person

        What makes me happy is knowing that deep in your brain you know you are like an ant compared to the person you just disrespected.

        • K, I think you just described my former boss. The thing is, she really was both outgoing and intelligent. But still, she sometimes acted like she was in a grade school competition with me over who’s the smartest kid in class. But of course when I confronted her about how she was acting, she denied the reality of her behavior, said I acted like a “know it all” (should I have apologized to my boss for coming to meetings well prepared?) I just don’t understand the rules. I seem to break them on a regular basis, but even after 40+ years, I’m no closer to figuring out how to play by those nebulous “rules” that allow other people to make and keep friends and have other positive social interactions. I think I’m probably cursed and doomed to be a lonely outcast for the rest of my life. You know how some people can say something funny and it comes across as hilarious and someone else can say the exact same thing but it just comes out sounding wrong or stupid. Well, I’m that latter person. And it sucks.

  • I related with everything on this article to describe myself. I have been to multiple therapists and they label me with above high intelligence. But a question that I always ask is if i’m on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been told absolutely not multiple times but that seems like the only reasonable answer to my social discomfort. Paranoia always want’s me to lean to some fundamental biological ailment..can all this exist without one? Also I seem to be extremely present and aware when spectating any sort of social situation, to the point where I can see exactly where the conversation is going and what the other is going to say next and i’m correct 99% of the time. Also seeing subtle humors and twists that others miss and so on, but once involved in any social situation all my intuition and knowledge seems to go out the window…

    • I will say I can relate a lot, and much of this has to do with the pressures involved to fit yourself into a particular mold. Just be yourself and accept the world around you as it is. Words are just symbols, they can never touch the real life. We are all unique individuals, and there is no reason for you to get shy, because we are all a bunch of talking apes spinning on this rock. Just try not to take life so seriously and NEVER try to read into what someone is thinking, that will only cause stress for you and discomfort for the other person. We all tend to do this and forget how detrimental it is to our well-being.

  • This is a very good article, however, there are exceptions to the rule. I happen to be very intelligent as well as socially gifted. I actually have a proclivity to socialize; when I am social, I try to be aware of situations whereby I am socializing with less intelligent people.

    I have a big problem with socializing with people who are not as smart as me, as I have little to no patience at all. I can go as far as saying it literally hurts to engage in a conversation and/or a forum with less intelligent people. Are there any social strategies that can be learned to diplomatically avoid this problem?

    • No, just stay away from people who don’t add any value or wealth of in formation to your life. Btw, you may say that, but do you realize how superior this makes ya sound? First of all, it is foolish for you to assume that you are smarter than someone.. Smarter in what? Generalization is never a good thing.. You are only falsifying yourself my friend. Don’t get me wrong, we all have great potentials, but you needing to elevate yourself is only going to cause more problems along the road for you. Try to have more understanding instead of labeling someone as stupid or smart just because of certain stereotypes that society has instilled into you. 🙂

    • I totally know what your saying. Generally speaking most conversations tend to stay in the “How’s the weather, How are you? Good, thanks” zone. Those conversations are easy to have with just about anyone. On the other hand, if your making an intellectual remark, or statement and the person on the receiving end can’t or won’t contribute it does get frustrating. Weather they should receive the stupid label, probably not. Maybe the person doesn’t know anything about that topic. Generally speaking, I enjoy being around people who challenge me intellectually as well.

  • Reason #5, they are bored. They fully understand what other people talk about, but just don’t care about it, and know that no one around them will understand anything they are interested in talking about.

    To paraphrase, stupid people talk about people, average people talk about events, smart people talk about ideas.

    I run into this all the time in social situations, people want to talk about someone and I just don’t care, its a waste of my time. Events ill talk some, but I get bored there too. Ideas, theories, science etc… that’s where I will start talking and stay talking. To me, conversation is an exchange of knowledge and ideas, if you have nothing I’m interested in hearing, and cant understand anything I want to talk about… Why would I want to talk to you.

    So really, its not so much that smart people have poor social skills, its that we have nothing in common with the majority of people, and therefore nothing to talk about.

    In my case, logic > emotion, I have emotions and I understand them, they just don’t control me. I control them.

    Though on the other hand, telling people what they want to hear, in order to appear to fit in and be accepted is easy, it just gets boring. Drinking helps.

    • Very well said Matt. This is exactly what Susan Cain discusses in her book Quiet. many so called quiet people are only quiet because most people converse about other people or events and not ideas

      • I know everyone that converses over ideas.. Lets see, janitors, dishboys, homeless people, school kids, employees, friends, etc etc.. Does it make all of us “Intelligent”? You will never know what intelligence really is, you will never understand that this organism already functions intelligently, the so called ideas are the ones that limit that and get in the way of the natural functioning of this organism. So you trying to understand this is only for your profit motives and stems from fear of not being able to survive, which as a result causes stress and misery.

    • You sir are living in the world of black and white. Same with this article, but not to your degree. Name me one ‘stupid’ person who has not spoken of ideas that are of his or her interest. Name me one smart person who doesn’t talk or gossip about people that they are jealous of or are in competition with. It is all about survival and the situation. Our knowledge creates our experiences and our experiences strengthen that knowledge, its a vicious circle. There are different types of intelligences. Thought is nothing but memory in motion. So whatever we have experienced or learned, we are that. No one is smarter than anyone else. It would be impossible to test anything. Don’t label and divide, that is a huge problem for many people. -Mr. Intelligent

      • The only one living in a black and white world is you Georgiy, what he is saying is that the more intelligent a human is the more abstract its thoughts will be, this has being proven true multiple times with scientific experiments, obviously he is not saying that high intelligent people NEVER talk about events or people…

    • Isn’t it strange how most people expect a high intelligent person to get along and have pleasant conversations with an average intelligent person. While almost no one would expect an average intelligent person to get along with someone who has an IQ of let’s say 60.
      Having a high intelligent partner/friend could help as long as it lasts. Unfortunately finding a high intelligent partner is not that easy because they obviously don’t grow in bushes. The fight against loneliness is a tough one especially when you have been in the middle of a large group of friends yesterday. Drinking helps.

    • I totally agree about the preferred type of conversation. I can only stand so much small talk. What’s the point? If I can spend my time in intelligent conversation, I might as well be at home reading or researching random stuff on the internet. I had to occasionally put in an appearance at Friday social gatherings after work, which always took place at bars with loud music where conversation required shouting back and forth to someone a foot and a half away from me, just so I could kinda hear what they were saying about their dog, or breadmaking, or something else that really wasn’t worth having to go through all that effort to have a discussion. Yet other people actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. I just don’t get it. The only good thing about it was that I had access to alcohol to help me get through it.

  • While I identify myself with all these attributes, (embarrassed to call myself a genius, but well, I know I am intelligent with a high degree of self awareness). However, I am always always bad at interviews. Whether on phone, or a face to face interview, I always blow it. So much so, even talking to the HR gives me the jitters, almost paralyzes me. I’ve lost way too many opportunities this way. I have very good degrees and the jobs that I’ve got, I have done well in them and often my CV intimidates some people. But when it comes down to the interview, pwoooof…..i stutter, i mumble, i freeze, my eyes begin to tear up…. its terrible.

    • I also feel the same ways – I could barely make it through a Skype interview because I was so nervous about being evaluated.

    • I totally feel ya on that. And of course, I can feel my face get red hot during all that, which only makes me more nervous, which makes things even worse.

  • Social skills are not a necessity; putting on a façade is more desirable when the majority of people surrounding are chores to adhere and listen to. Personal hobbies and the like satisfy me more than any talk about some new artist, which might not even interest me. Pity sets in, I start to disagree with the opinions of those who bandwagon with the popular culture. Social lives, in my opinion, are all façades as no one knows who anyone truly is in those dysmal depths of personality.

    • Sure seems that way. But maybe if those of us who are socially inept could get together, then we could have intelligent, honest conversations and have a social life also. Just seems a bit hard to find others like me since, like me, they are afraid of social situations and probably prefer knowledge seeking activities over social interactions. It’s a no win situation.

  • Great article! The comments on this page are hilarious. The self-proclaimed intelligent ones fail miserably in the area of elementary grammar and spelling. Yes, I am snobbishly judging you. lol

    • Didn’t occur to you that this might their second language, did it?
      This is the exact challenge in socializing with the “normal people”. They judge us based on some dumb criteria and draw stupid conclusions.
      I am happy to remain the “socially inept” I am. I get along quite well with those similar to myself, and that is what matters most. I don’t think I need any help socializing with the “normal” ones, who might judge a person’s intelligence base on their grammar in a second language they learnt in less than two years.

  • oh, and narcissism. Some people think they are gods gift. Though, it is delusional. so this article would not apply to them, only stroke there ego for how stupid everone is.. narcissists are masters of socializing, and only hold wisdom in specific mandatory fields.

    • First of all, I used to be Anon. But I decided to use another username.

      Second of all, this article is far from accurate. Instead, it’s judgmental it seems to discourage people to stop being themselves and encourages them to be more like those who aren’t like them. Sounds to me like those cliques in school for adolescents.

      Well, I say, “To hell with trying to socialize with others who aren’t like you! What that will do is make you a mindless sheep. Instead, stick with other people who are my like you. That is, if you want to.”

  • Good article…i can certainly relate. One problem, I’ve worked hard on overcoming this for years, and it has brought tons of success! On the one hand, I have a lot of friends and supporters. On the other hand unfortunately, a lot of people are still awful, evil, and/or not intelligent at all and getting to know them has caused me considerable problems, and I’m in pretty much the same situation repeatedly, avoiding social situations out of fear, partly, and the sad truth of human nature mostly… Gotta stick to the ones who we can communicate with and understand, sometimes ignorance can do terrible things to us just for speaking up/seeing the truth etc.

  • I can definitely relate to this blog. I know an idiot who is overly confident but very irresponsible, always gets in trouble. Oddly, he does have a lot of friends, lot more than I do. You’re absolutely right, confident, outgoing people seemed to want to do whatever without thinking of the consequences.

  • I hate to be a grammar-nazi but I guess that’s just another fallacy for us smartasses ;P Please proofread your article, it’s good otherwise 😉

    An aspect you didn’t mention at all is the social difference – they difference in repertoire of common information. It’s the part where it really IS about information, not about skill. No amount of skill can make up for not knowing the latest and greatest in soap operas or baseball chatter. Replace these two with just about anything you , as a smart person, feel is trivial and does not catch your interest and yet catches the general populace nonetheless.

    I don’t know whether you had this experience too, but when speaking to likeminded people even those you would consider shy and socially bankrupt may surprise you. It’s a question of being at ease with the topics. If you don’t believe me, walk up to a scholar you think knowledgeable in a field you are not and try socializing with said scholar over what you think he knows best. That’s precisely the situation many experience as social anxiety.

  • I don’t think that I am highly intelligent or anything but I can definitely relate to this article. Ar school I noticed that I think about things differently from other people.
    I read a lot and every one calls me unsociable… They all think about who will they talk to next or about shopping with all the girls but all I think about is “I need to finish this book before tomorrow.”

  • i’m introverted but i don’t have social anxiety. If you think people should be outgoing, then you are probably a cultural sheep with no perspective and poor understanding

  • When I was younger, I was kind of a loner. I earned above average grades and I had a few good friends; kind of a low-middle of the pack kid. As my parents once told me, they said they were never worried about me. I had more common sense than my age dictated and I performed well enough in school. My sister was the advanced student, but my mom said that my sister regularly made poor decisions. When I left for the military, we realized that her friends were actually my friends. I think that I’ve always been pretty successful. I work well by myself and as part of the team. I’d say that I’m a pretty happy 40 year old and have been consistently happy in life. In college, I scored in the top percentage of my class, so either I was a late bloomer or I just failed to apply myself in high school, which I’ll admit, I was bored and I hated high school. I ditched the max amount of days in school and still had good grades. Anyways, I’m off the squirrel tangent. My opinion is that in raising children, parents need to make sure they provide the tools for their children to be well-rounded, so that they aren’t lopsided like being so smart that they don’t have any interpersonal skills. In today’s raising of children I see parents trying to get their children into schools where all they do is work and then go home with hours of homework. At what point does their smart kid have the opportunity to develop interpersonal skills? I think in the next few years, we will see just how un-socialized these kids will be. As parents, we may be creating a generation of intelligent inept adults. I’ve already seen it. My cousin graduated last year and she’s lost and now suffering from depression. She has a difficult time keeping friends, and making them for that matter. She’s also very awkward in social settings and says that trying to get a job is difficult. I’m thinking she’s probably floundering on her interviews because she lacks those social skills. Here’s a comparison of 29 and 30 year old cousins of mine. One scored above average grades and was outgoing in school. He’s very happy with his work, people like him and he definately gets the girls. The other brother is a very intelligent IT guy but is always complaining about the people he works with. He struggles with keeping the friends he has because they’ve all moved on with having families. He has not made hardly any new friends since he graduated high school and rarely gets the girl; never keeping them for more than a couple months. Moving forward, the IT cousin will likely make more money, but thus far, is one unhappy camper and retreats to his computer to play video games every night. What kind of life is that? When other parents tell me how hard they push education for their smart kid, all I can think about is, are they creating a lopsided adult who may ultimately struggle with everyday life. My son has been tested and identified every year as being gifted in math, science and reading. I’m not against my kid being nerdy at all; I actually encourage it, but I refuse to push it as the primary focus in life. I also encourage him to be a kid, get out there and do kid things; socialize, be a boy scout and hone those interpersonal skills. I would rather that my child find success through happiness in whatever he decides to be (insert scientist discipline here) through intelligent charisma and being well-rounded. I think that in the end, he will be a happier person and it’s already been proven many times that happier people live better lives, reagardless of their income and career status.

    • I don’t think it’s fair to put it entirely on the parents. Humans are not just a product of nurture, but also of nature. I have two children that are close in age and were raised the same. One is very outgoing and sociable, while the other is very introverted like me. I can recall feeling separate from the other kids even back in pre-school. I had opportunities to socialize with others in school and at babysitters, but I just didn’t seem to fit in with other people. I preferred to be by myself or with animals and I just didn’t understand why “normal” people acted the way they did or what was “wrong” with who I was and what I preferred. I just wish “normal” people were the ones whose ideas of social interaction at times involve intelligent conversations with one or just a few people, and companionable silence at other times.

  • This is a stupid blog for stupid people. Any person who is actually intelligent can easily figure out why they have poor social skills and do not have to read some ridiculous blog in order to figure it out. There are plenty of intelligent extroverts and plenty of stupid introverts.

  • I suspect the author doesn’t know many intelligent people. I also don’t know why the capitalization was used so much. This article was about “socially awkward people” not “intelligent people”.

    I think the actual problem intelligent people have in socializing is that the pool is much smaller, so it can be frustrating to find like-minded people. There also aren’t many venues that would naturally exclude less intelligent people. If you go to a book club, there are going to be tons of less intelligent people because reading books is not an activity that would necessarily exclude less intelligent people. There’s really no place you can go where you are guaranteed to get only educated and intelligent people and absolutely no one less intelligent.

    An intelligent person gets bored talking about common conversation topics much more quickly than the average person and would like to move on to more meaningful topics as well. A less intelligent person sees this as rude or even aggressive. The problem is that topics like religion aren’t stimulating to someone who already talked the subject to death and decided an apathetic atheism was the way to go. They also probably know more about the subject than someone who is interested in discussing common themes in it, which makes it more frustrating to entertain a conversation on it. That was just an example. There are intelligent people who would find some topics interesting, just not the commonly discussed ones (history, evolution of religion, parallels between religious arguing and social fears, etc). They probably do not want to discuss how similar religions are because they’re already bored with the topic.

    So, the real problem is in finding like-minded people who can be fun to spend time with, not this stupid, childish stuff discussed in the article. I have never known anyone in my circle to be bad at emotions or unsure of how to “trick” people into liking them. It was always more of a frustration that there are so many people around them who have a very low threshold for stimulation and thus are kind of boring to be around.

    • Hey J,

      You make some good points. Finding people who you can have interesting conversations with is definitely a big challenge.

    • I think that both what the article says and what you said in regard to why intelligent people struggle socially are true. It is harder to find intelligent people than it is to find people of lesser intellect. I think therefore, many intelligent people are forced to turn to social circles of lower intelligence. This can result in the intelligent person being lost and end up becoming very introverted but it can also induce a dumbing down of oneself to permit enjoyment and stimulation from social experiences that would otherwise bore them. If you read the first comment, made by Christy, you’ll see what I mean by what she says about her social ability increasing with her inebriation.

    • Yeah this article is cheap fast food and I dont think the author knows much about psychology tbh, I dont wanna be disrespectful but I cant find another way of saying it.

      The reason why intelligent people have problems socializing is because society is made by and for those who have low intelligence (wich is the majority for evolutive reasons), and because of that the intelligent ones are abused and marginated, if you leave a group of intelligent people on an island, all those problems will go away, they wont need all the stupid social norms that are made to keep the common human happy, they will communicate more efficiently than the common human would do, they would do everything better because they are better, is that simple, you can’t put an intellectual being inside a zoo with monkeys and expect it to be happy or to develop his potential to the fullest.

      There are no problems with being more intelligent, the more intelligent a human is the better, the problems come when that individual has to interact with a vast majority of unevolved apes who follow their instinct instead of using the intellect, just the same way our ancestors did millions of years ago.

      But I think the author knows this very well, he knows the vast majority is stupid so he writes an article saying: “Hey mediocre human being who is visiting my website, do you know those intelligent people that you hate because they say words you don’t understand and when you compare yourself to them you feel inferior? Read how they arent really that good in this article so you will feel better about yourself and your ignorance!”

      Everyone single point of the article is wrong, also you talk about social skills as if they were of any value, what you call social skills is the most primitive way of communicating, something that intelligent humans dont use anymore, only when they have to interact with those who are not. “Social Skills” are based on sensory perception and emotions, rational/critical thinking (and communicating) is based on logic and the scientific method. One of those ways of communicating is efficient and gets things done, the other one is a waste of time those who are more ape than human have to used because they dont know better.

      • You tell him, K! I couldn’t have worded that post better myself. Besides, uniintelligence will get all people nowhere in life.

  • I speak for myself here…I find ordinary socializing (yip yap) for the sake of ‘belonging’, boring. Of course I can be social but in the company of like minded individuals. Pretending to be part and parcel of a non-likeminded bunch of people, is mentally draining. Plus, they usually talk a load of crap too – very superficial. They want me to behave like them: dancing, laughing, chatting and simply going nuts. In their view, they reckon that’s the way to ‘have fun’, which I highly doubt it truly is. It’s horses for courses, I guess. For me though, I have a much better time amongst real, authentic and genuine people who are simply who they are. No pretence or show. Simply an acceptance and enjoyment of each other’s differences and idiosyncrasies.

    • I totally agree with you Henry. Real, authentic and genuine is what I’m looking for too.
      And the authentic me also gets no enjoyment from dancing and acting goofy. May be ok when playing with my toddler granddaughter, though, as long as no one else sees me, because then I’d just feel like a fool.

  • Just like the first pair of shoes ever made by a human there was also a time before we had words for things like cold, hot and mine. We used emotions to express our feelings and to communicate yet we’re in 2015 and emotions play a huge roll on individuals and our civilization as a whole.

  • yup you basically explained me in your article great article by the way however emotions are in check no problem there and i am content with who i am however in dealing with those people thats in check as well i use masks coupled with a few anecdotes about small talk memorized for different occasions so it seems like i get them, or i walk around with headphones in otherwise if i were to hold an actually conversation with them 2 things might happen: 1 i get so drained and get massively bored that i have to end the conversation or 2 i start talking about my topics and then after the 5 min mark they walk away. i have severe difficulty discussing with them small talk about irrelevant topics which represent a narrow band on the whole spectrum i see. i mean how pertinent is the specs on the newest and greatest sports car really? what function does that really play? or watching a “Game” and then discussing it for weeks at a time how relevant is that as well? what can you do with that information? i mean so what you know how many runs or goals were made can you use that to predict future games? probably, can you use that to simulate that in your life? not probably? see its essentially useless info however the specs of the car may come in use by other engineers to back engineer a certain part but is that person a engineer? not likely see back to useless info. information should be divided between useful,practical, functional, integral, etc,etc and useless, not relevant, waste of time, time fillers,etc.etc the world would be way more practical and then more people could relate to others. except i am the weird one so if this offends then just write me off it does not bother me anymore. i am sorry but there is no amount of small talk can condition me to be like others and besides why should i change to fit in to others neat little boxes why dont they educate themselves and rise to our level? whats the old saying? oh yes ..you laugh because i am different i laugh because you are all the same.

  • Something that bothers me about a number of the posts here are references to “stupid” people. Though this seems to be primarily targeted at “normal” (socially adept) people, there are people who are both intelligent and socially skilled. But moreover, it is a judgement made against those who are more social and it also assumes that scholarly-type intelligence is superior. Social and emotional intelligence are just as important as a person’s IQ or ability to participate in a sophisticated conversation. We may be the primary ones who create inventions, but those inventions would do us no good if we could not sell them. Marketing and acquiring investors (or getting donations in the case of nonprofits) are in the realm of the outgoing person who is skilled in small talk and “schmoozing.” I couldn’t do their job. Let’s face it, we need all kinds of people. If everyone in the world were like us, the world would probably be great for a short time, then it would all start to fall apart because there would be no one to do the important functions that we rely on outgoing people to do. And if you think about it, when we are putting our foot in our mouths, fumbling over our words, or struggling for something to say WE are the ones that come across seeming pretty stupid. I think it would be better if we could all just humble ourselves and forego the “us vs. them” mentality. It would be far better if we all just sought to understand and accept one another as we are.

    • Genuinely stupid people won’t accept you for who you are. The problem is that there are lots of genuinely stupid people. I’m only less stupid because I am aware of just how stupid I am.

  • sir, you have really told some useful stuff.but i’ ve tried it many times that now i feel that i can’t succeed.
    my friends get the happiness while they are just shit at every thing but i get frustrated, happiness doesn’t come spontaneously to me, can i yet succeed.
    i really feel helpless.

  • Thank you.

    I read shynesssocialanxiety.com/socially-inept/ … It turned the light bulb on. After decades of suffering… Life will begin @ 50 for me. All that I need was this key. Had I got it earlier…

    I gues it is NEVER too late.

    Again, thanks a million !!!

  • A real good look at the “shy and socially inept” person who is usually intelligent and the reasons for this…their tendency to plan and weigh risks/outcomes…a perfect piece for those who fall in this category!!!

  • Yes and no. Intelligent people don’t get any reward from socialising with stupid people. That brain spasm that makes you feel good, just doesn’t happen. The same is true for all the social cues etc that happen automatically. For this reason a lot of the article applies, but for very different reasons. If you are intelligent, you are in an extreme minority and finding clever people with which to socialise is difficult. Intelligent people can’t be themselves around stupid people for a whole list of reasons and this is what creates a lot of problems. In order to socialise effectively you have to enjoy it and to enjoy it you have to be yourself. Sadly if you aren’t socialised at a young age you do become odd. People are social creatures and to not be socialised at a young age leads to all sorts of problems in later life like anxiety. However, if you work at it, you can get better, but you have to find the right people that are worth your time and that will accept you despite being a bit odd. Its a viscous circle, you can only get better by socialising, but people tend to reject that which is odd. This makes socialising painful and stops people from trying.

  • the second and third reason perfectly describe me . ….when it talks about thinking too much and and psycing themselves out

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