Smart people: "Common sense is not that common"

Resumť: The quote by French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire - alias FranÁois-Marie Arouet - is taken by author Travis Bradberry. He states "Itís good to be smart. After all, intelligent people earn more money, accumulate more wealth, and even live longer. On the surface, being smart looks like easy living. But thereís another side to the story."

Intelligent people have a reputation for making dumb mistakes, especially in situations that require common sense. The simplicity of these situations and the abundant intelligence of those who tend to muck them up can be downright comical.

After decades of research, scientists are finally beginning to understand why this happens. Shane Frederick at Yale University was among the first to conduct research that explained why rational thinking and intelligence donít tend to go hand in hand.

In his studies, Frederick gave people simple problems to solve, like this one: ďA bat and ball cost a dollar and 10 cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?Ē

 Frederick found that some people have the tendency to confidently blurt out the wrong answer, stating that the ball costs 10 cents. You, of course, knew that the correct answer is that the ball costs five cents, and youíre completely justified if youíre wondering if the, well, less-than-smart people were the ones blurting out the wrong answer.

Psychologists from James Madison University and the University of Toronto wondered the same thing. They gave similar tests of logic to hundreds of people and compared the accuracy of their answers to their levels of intelligence. The researchers found that smart people were more likely to blurt out the wrong answer because they actually make more mental mistakes when problem-solving.

Smart people are more prone to silly mistakes because of blind spots in how they use logic. These blind spots exist because smart people tend to be overconfident in their reasoning abilities. That is, theyíre so
used to being right and having quick answers that they donít even realize when theyíre blowing it by answering without thinking things through.

Consider some of the most common ways in which smart people manage to shoot themselves in the foot:

1. Smart people are overconfident
A lifetime of praise and pats on the back leads smart people to develop an unflappable faith in their intelligence and abilities. (...) Smart people often fail to recognize when they need help. When they do, they tend to believe that no one else is capable of providing it.

2. They push people too hard
Smart people develop overachieving personalities because things come so easily to them. They simply donít understand how hard some people have to work to accomplish the same things, and because of that, they push people too hard.

3. They always need to be right
For smart people, being wrong can feel like a personal attack, and being right, a necessity.

4. They lack emotional intelligence
These high-IQ, low-EQ individuals see the world as a meritocracy. Achievements are all that matter, and people and emotions just get in the way.

5. They give up when they fail
Have you ever watched a sporting event and seen the stunned look on the face of an athlete whom everyone expected to win, but didnít?

6. They fail to develop grit
When smart people canít complete something without a tremendous amount of effort, they tend to feel frustrated and embarrassed.

7. They multitask
Smart people think so quickly that, when they multitask, it feels like itís working and theyíre getting more done, but Stanford research shows that this isnít the case.

8. They have a hard time accepting feedback
Not only does this tendency hinder their growth and performance, it can lead to toxic relationships, both personally and professionally.

If you arenít willing to take an honest look at the whole picture, youíre selling yourself short. And that isnít smart.

Travis Bradberry is co-author of ďEmotional Intelligence 2.0Ē and co-founder of
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