8 Phrases Smart People Never Use In A Conversation

We all like to think of ourselves as being pretty smart, and for the most part, that might be true. However, there are some intelligent people who do and say some very ignorant and simple-minded things. For instance, the phrases below may seem relatively innocuous and not that deep, but smart people know they convey the wrong message. So, what words should you outlaw from your daily vocab? Here are just a few.

1. “That’s not fair.”

Listen, life isn’t fair. There are a lot of things that are going to happen to you over the years that make you mad, sad, confused, etc. They won’t seem “fair” or just, especially when you see other people (you who believe are objectively more terrible/less deserving) having the time of their lives. It sucks, obviously, but smart people know that life is a bit more random and that sometimes things happen.

Instead of complaining about how unfair everything is, they change what they can, accept what they can’t, and keep it moving. Easier said than done, but you’d be surprised how naturally it starts to come to you — and how much happier you’ll be as a result.

2. “I told you so.”

Not only does this make you seem pretty insufferable and immature — this is the kind of stunt 10-year-olds use on the playground — but it also makes you sound unintelligent. Smart people don’t need to be right all the time, nor do they need to stick it to the doubters or those who thought they knew better. Instead, they’re happy to let the proof be in the pudding and leave it at that.

Obviously, we all have a petty side that wants nothing more than to rub other people’s arrogance or stubbornness back in their face, but this does nothing but drag you down to their level.

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4. “All ____ are ___.”

It goes without saying that making sweeping statements that write entire groups of people off as being identical is short-sighted, ignorant, and just plain wrong. All men aren’t garbage, all women aren’t spiteful and gossipy, all teenagers aren’t rude and disrespectful… you get the point. By lobbing everyone in together based on a few bad experiences you’ve had, you show just how little grasp you have on nuance (and reality).

Smart people recognize that people are unique and also that humanity is a bit more complex than stereotypes allow for. They treat people as human beings rather than judging them on a pre-conceived bias.

5. “No offense, but…”

If you have to preface the words that are about to come out of your mouth with “No offense, but…” you’re clearly aware that you’re very much about to say something offensive. Smart people know that this phrase doesn’t negate the intent or effect of what comes next, so they don’t even go there. Instead, they’re more likely to examine why they feel the way they do and whether or not there’s a better way to communicate that.

Claiming that your insulting words aren’t meant to be, erm, insulting, is a cop-out and a cheap tactic rude people use to try and cover their backs. No one’s buying it.

6. “It is what it is.”

On the surface, this one seems pretty harmless, and it’s totally fine in moderation. In a way, it conveys a sense of acceptance. You know (or at least you think) you can’t change a situation, so you write it off as a loss with “it is what it is.” Sure, it’s technically true, but it’s also a really lazy, dismissive way unintelligent people relinquish responsibility in their lives rather than taking control.

Obviously, sometimes things really are what they are and there’s no point in trying to change things because it’s not going to happen. However, think about the people you’ve heard who rely on “it is what it is” almost as a life motto. They’re not exactly out there crushing it, are they?

7. “Who knows?”

Let’s be clear here: There’s absolutely nothing wrong (and everything right) with admitting when you don’t know something in life. It’s far better than talking out of your backside and pretending to be an expert in something you know nothing about. However, smart people know that this phrase comes off as unbothered, uninterested, and disparaging.

You might not know, of course, but shutting down the topic at hand with “Who knows?” is kind of obnoxious. Either tell the person that it’s not your forte and that someone else might be able to answer the question at hand better, or do a bit of research and find out.

8. “I’m actually really smart.”

Smart people don’t need to tell people they’re smart. In fact, most of the people who feel the need to brag about what Einsteins they are tend to be the opposite. They also tend to use this as a way to belittle others and prop themselves up because they have massive egos and can’t bear to admit that their IQ is actually pretty average.

Instead, those with true intelligence are less concerned with telling people about it and more focused on living it. They’re thoughtful, considerate, and always looking to expand their knowledge and perspectives. That’s what true smarts are about.

9. “This is what I’ve always done.”

Human beings are naturally creatures of habit — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say. However, just because something works for a while doesn’t mean it always will. Times change, technology develops, people evolve… there comes a time when you have to assess where you’re at and think, “Is it time to shift things a bit?”

Smart people know that insisting the way things always were is the way they always should be is reductive and a surefire way to get left behind. Instead, they’re always open to new processes, ideas, and approaches that help make things more efficient, effective, and pain-free.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill