By definition, the word smart simply means “mentally alert.” But how does our smartness play into our everyday lives? Not only are we impacted by how we view our own intelligence, but we’re also impacted by the intelligence of those surrounding us. The knowledge of those we frequently engage with can impact our work lives, our home lives, our interpersonal relationships, and how we engage with the people in our environments. Knowing the intelligence of our loved ones, our colleagues, our significant others, and those we tend to spend time with can help us productively communicate with them, work with them, and understand the ways that they tick… and perhaps, get a little smarter ourselves. These are three surefire signs that someone is smarter than you are.

They are natural problem-solvers

Highly intelligent people are some of the best problem-solvers out there. Geniuses are often incredibly open-minded and are able to look at the “bigger picture” with ease. They don’t get easily phased because, instead of tripping over small issues and concerns, they are able to productively work through problems as they pop up. Smart people don’t even panic in the most high-stress situations, because they can easily manifest an alternative way to cope with a situation that others may not consider. They seem to have a mental emergency kit prepared to deal with issues, big and small, and can draw on a number of skills that they may or may not use during low-stress scenarios. This is to say that they are highly prepared to deal with stressors that others may struggle to juggle. They aren’t quick to get upset. They know that a smile, a little reflection, and a bit of troubleshooting can go a long way. Smart people are well-balanced enough to not get knocked down at the first sign of a problem. They navigate roadblocks with ease and are always on alert for issues that may pop up ahead, already planning on how to manage future problems. If you’re trying to figure out if someone is smart or not, see how they react in a stressful situation. People who are cool-headed, thoughtful, and insightful at the first sign of an issue tend to have higher intelligence than those who are unable to problem-solve or focus on solutions.

They know how to listen

Smart people aren’t blabbermouths. Many times, people masquerading as intellectuals will feel the need to prove how smart they are through cockiness, faux-confidence, and what they view as intellectual conversations. However, not everyone who is a good conversationalist and a hard-worker is necessarily brilliant. Most of the smartest people on earth know how to do one essential task with complete mastery: listen. While unintelligent people prefer the sound of their own voices, smart people understand that every conversation and interaction is a chance to learn from those around them. Therefore, truly smart people tend to be thoughtful and attentive listeners. They should demonstrate an interest in what those around them are saying and ask questions relevant to those topics. Many steer clear of their own personal ties to a subject until they’re asked their opinion, and they never use the chance to speak as an opportunity to brag about what they know (which, since they’re good listeners, is often a lot). Smart people are able to remain almost silent in a conversation and walk away from it knowing even more than they did before. If someone you’re conversing with is frequently interrupting, always ties the conversation back to themselves, or is eager to challenge what you have to say, they’re likely not highly intelligent. Truly smart people are eager listeners, open to new opinions, and are excited to add more knowledge to their arsenal of wisdom. They know that one of the best ways to learn is through listening, and they often show their smartness through not speaking at all.

They don’t make others look stupid

Smart people aren’t showoffs. People who are genuinely smart don’t feel the need to make those with lesser intelligence feel dumb. This may be because they’ve run their mouths off and lost people’s respect before or simply because they understand that making others look bad will only reflect on themselves. Either way, true intellectuals will not attempt to show anyone up with their intelligence or try to insult the intelligence of anyone else. Smart people also understand that smartness doesn’t have everything to do with success, and they don’t feel a need to discount the talents and abilities of those around them. They’re often respectful, humble, and aware of the fact that their intelligence can only take them so far. While unintelligent people often pretend they’re superior for their intelligence and treat others as lesser, truly smart people are rarely cocky about their smartness.

They also don’t go out of their way to make others feel inferior or seem stupid in comparison to them. They understand that their reputation is also reliant on the reputations of those who they surround themselves with, and they are eager to help others grow in their intelligence and appear smarter than they may feel. In fact, the most brilliant people are often willing to be shown up by others in their circle in order to promote confidence and respect amongst those they’re communicating with. The smartest people know that everything is a team effort and that trying to make one’s team members seem inferior is not the way to earn the respect of themselves or others. Geniuses enjoy productively spreading knowledge rather than bragging about all that they know, which makes those close to them smarter, as well. If you fit any of these criteria, you might be a genius yourself!