Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

When People Find Your Intellect Intimidating — A Guide For Gifted Women


photo courtesy of Sabrina May, Unsplash

You don’t do it on purpose.

Intimidate people.

You’re just being you.

In fact, you’re holding back. Slowing down. Smiling. Being gracious. Stifling your curiosity and your perceptions. Carefully selecting from the scores of effervescent thoughts that continuously swirl around in your brain.

If they only knew how much you’re NOT showing.

Oh, boy.

And yet, you still scare them.

If they only knew that you just love to learn. You just love reading and research. You’re a pacifist, for heaven’s sake. You slept with the dictionary when you were five. (Unless, of course, your dictionary was on your phone. Then, you slept with Charlotte’s Web and Darwin’s Origin of the Species. But I digress.) How is that scary?

You’re not out to humiliate anyone or prove that you’re a superior being.

It’s just your nature to think a lot, to feel a lot, and to know a lot.

It’s not your fault.

So, you want to know how to be less intimidating?

That’s tricky.

It may not be in your control. It may not actually be necessary. But here are some suggestions, just in case. See if any fit for you.

If you’re interrupting folks with your creative ideas, let them finish before you share your thoughts; imagine designing the next electric car while you’re waiting. If you’re showing how bored you are at meetings when no one can agree on the obvious solution that you shared at the beginning of the meeting, bring your knitting or the New York Times crossword to stay occupied. Let people have their bad grammar and their mixed metaphors; the world will probably not end. Explore various ways to communicate with individuals based on their capacity to receive your insights and view it as a playful intellectual puzzle; there will be some people who won’t be reachable no matter what you do. Exercise your love of debate by running for office. Look for the humor in any situation as a way to entertain yourself and plan your memoir.

If you’ve grown up thinking that you need to be perfect, begin to unravel that belief; your vulnerability will be appealing to others. Feed relatives your terrible cooking. Invite friends to your messy house. Play games that you can’t win. Don’t hide your klutziness. Ask for help from people you trust.

Know that your rainforest-y peeps are out there and they will not be intimidated; they will be thrilled. Keep looking for them.

What I really want to tell you is that as you experience humans finding you scary and intimidating, you may need to accept that not everyone can handle life in the jungle. It’s pretty intense in there with all of those 2,500 different species of vines and 10,000 species of ants. It can be kind of scary, intimidating and overwhelming.

Even to you.

But, remember.

The rainforest also keeps everyone breathing. You are needed and wondrous just as you are. 

(Note: Just in case some of you might be inclined to misinterpret me, I’m not saying that you should change who you are for people who are intimidated. Noooooo. I’m just giving you some suggestions that might help make life easier for you in particular situations where you need them. As you know, I support you in being the fabulous radiant rainforest-y darling that you are. That’s what my blog is all about!!)


To my dear bloggEEs: Are people intimidated by your intelligence? Have you found any good solutions? How would this post be different if it were the smart man’s guide? How would it be the same? I think gifted men also scare people, but differently. I wonder if the issue for gifted men is more that they can’t show their sensitivity. What do you say, dear readers? Thank you to the bloggEEs who inspired this post. And men, I promise a post just for you, soon.



Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

92 thoughts on “When People Find Your Intellect Intimidating — A Guide For Gifted Women

  1. ❤ Thank you so much Paula, I find I am in the arena of having been asked to not share so much [in a platform for sharing and enabling group healing] I have once more retreated. And, alhamdulillah, for your insight, maybe this is why? Finding that group of in person people to feel part of is so hard. But, I always have my mind to wander in, and it is never dull in here =)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I look forward to the male equivalent. Yes, I think men don’t feel able to show sensitivity but especially in the company of other men. I was a ‘gifted’ boy who unfortunately ended up in a rough school where I quickly learned to be invisible.
    With regards gifted women being intimidating. I personally don’t find gifted women any more intimidating than any other woman but I think some men especially can’t cope with feeling like they are the ‘inferior’ one in a relationship if they are rather insecure anyway, and many of us are insecure.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good advice. I could shut more! I get so excited about what I learned I want to share it. Honestly, it’s pretty rude sometimes. I believe if people are intimidated or find my scary that is on them. I’m not going to be smaller, or less inspired, or less courageous, or less playful, or less competent, or less capable so other’s feel okay in their lack or inabilities. Probably in 30 years or so I’ll be dead. It will matter more that I was true than I wasn’t. And when the men get freaked about because I’m braver, smarter, louder, funnier, more capable than them (and they don’t want me to be). I tell them about themselves and shake up their sexist views. Truthfully I’ve never lacked for friends being this way. I feel ultimately people are attracted to honesty and truth (I’m sure my outrageous sense of humor helps) Because we are here to live our soul’s truth!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. It’s about the same for men. Boys are expected to be active/assertive, that helps a little as long as you don’t show you know too much more than the adults. (Who is this child size space alien with a vocabulary ten years ahead of his apparent age?)

    Liked by 3 people

  5. With heartfelt thanks Paula. This topic has really touched me. Even though it is something that I am quite familiar with, seeing it in writing seems to validate the experience in a way that is normalizing and therefore okay. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the healing wisdom that you share so generously. With much appreciation for your contributions towards my journey in the rainforest.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I especially love ‘Invite friends to your messy house.’ Ha ha! I’ve been terrified of people coming over to my apartment, because it’s so ‘weird’. Not at all like what it’s supposed to be like I guess. I mean, I don’t really have much furniture in the living room, nor a T-V. It’s more like a studio space. I have piles of sketches on one end, my cat’s ‘fort’ in the middle, and cat toys all over the place. In one corner is my awesome digital piano, and related musical stuff. I just returned to doing graphic design on the side, and a very high-maintenance client came over to sit with me in front of the computer. My anxiety level at first went sky-high, but over time, I realized she wasn’t a monster and she wasn’t going to kill me. If that sounds weird, it’s because I’ve spent nearly my whole life detached from relations, but have been transforming that aspect of my life s-l-o-w-l-y. I am realizing that for all the reasons some might reject me, others will love what I used to reject about myself. Thanks Paula!

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Right on target as usual! Social boredom syndrome: I’d like to know how others deal with predictable social encounters in which you know in advance
    what the topics and opinions will be. When feeling that boiling impatience, the rising sensation of wanting to bat away or flee from
    a dully predicable interaction in which language and thought seem to be unmaking themselves. My own response is to want to drop a verbal bomb (bad, bound to result in self-recrimination), or to make a swerve into playfulness which is rarely understood. Or both at once.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Very early on I unconsciously opted to abandon myself and focus on the banal minutiae of everyday living. I can listen intently to others banging on about whatever topic they like, for an hour or more. This side-step away from who I truly am means that most people don’t really know me, potential comrades can’t see me, and I don’t know myself too well either. I’ve also been subject to an alarming amount of attempted religious conversions due to my unwillingness to verbally state a position on almost anything (outside of relationship with my husband and my daughter).

      There may not be a genuine solution for ‘social boredom syndrome’. All I know is that your comment made me laugh – and I’d probably be drawn to you at a social gathering (if I didn’t sense too great a risk of our interaction drawing me out of myself and potentially blowing my cover, that is). Perhaps take a book to combat your boredom or, in service of sociability – a kazoo?

      Liked by 4 people

    • Not sure if this is helpful but I always bring a book (and paper/pen) wherever I go and I give myself permission to leave places early if I need to. I also always sit on the edge of a gathering place so as not to feel trapped. I like your idea of playfulness but it sounds like they don’t get your humor so it doesn’t work. I hope others will respond with ideas, Anonymous. Thanks for the question.

      Liked by 4 people

    • I find myself turning those meetings into social experiments. just observe who talks to who, who is in charge, who thinks he/she is in charge. who does the catering, is that voluntairy or because of order.
      and if it really gets to bad, take over the catering ,gives you an excuse to walk around and just play dumb going tea, coffee, cupcake what ever.
      even more fun if the food is intricate and then just make up stuff, “well this is goat cheese with thyme and fresh figs” even when it is just a simple piece of cheese on a stick.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Subhan Allah, you know, that is fascinating, my brother yesterday answered a call of ‘who is the most famous person you ever met’… and i have met and known lots, but, for me that is the wrong question… if you asked me how many interesting and fascinating people I have met, then very few. And, only one was famous, everyone else has been wonderful rare gems [usually much older than me] whose lives have unusual twists or who live by their authenticity regardless of what the world thinks, so very talented, i guess, eccentric, but beautiful people that springs from the depths! =) they wow me more. =)

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I think our “too muchness” isn’t a gate keeper for only non-gifted peers. Sometimes having two gifted people together is amazing and incredible, and sometimes it is toxic (sometimes you don’t see the poison until you are too intertwined.)
    I am so lucky to have some really great friends in the gifted world. It helps get through the fake interactions with the people who aren’t so wonderful. Lol.
    Being polite is a great skill for everyone to learn so they can interact with everyone else. There are only ever going to be a few people who truly get you and are your soul friends… the rest are just those you need to be polite to. That’s pretty much life in a nutshell for everyone. It’s just harder for us to find those connections because we have so many intensities and other characteristics that make us harder to match up, and we are way pickier than others because we think more about what real friendship and love look like.
    Thanks for being one of my tribe and for helping remind us all to play nicely. 😉

    Liked by 5 people

    • I hear what you’re saying. Not all gifted folks are angels. Some are toxic, too! I wonder if there’s some healthy balance between being polite and speaking your truth. Maybe it’s a matter of selecting carefully where it’s worth your time to express yourself directly and where it makes more sense to be kind/polite but limit your time with someone when you’re experiencing “social boredom syndrome.” What do you think?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Paula your advice about staying sane during meetings is much better than the one I feel tempted to use: sticking a very sharp pencil in my eye. In the service of my eyesight, I’ll give your approach a try next time I’m in a meeting. Oh wait – I’ve opted out of meetings! YAY!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My response is closer to Julia’s as I, too, have the personal integrity bug. I have concluded that small talk has a role in building trust between strangers but I am not sure why that is. Maybe it’s looking for common ground, probably some sort of code words that show you have the same vicious prejudices that they have. Small talk is unbearable. I find that I go immediately deep into the heart of things, always trying to understand and analyze every situation. I think others should do that too. I try to teach my students to do that and you can bet I taught my daughter to do that.

    I’ve had good friends in the past but here, in Hong Kong, I don’t really have any. I enjoy doing what I want to do on my own in a city that offers a huge amount of cultural opportunities and I seem not to mind that. I travel everywhere on my own. I find doing these things alone preferable to putting up with unthinking folks who seem perfectly willing to assist in ushering the human species to oblivion taking the rest of the planet with them/us. Small talk, BS, trivialities, going along to get along, staying in your place, don’t rock the boat, etc., are luxuries that life on earth can no longer afford.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hm. I’m wondering if you all are thinking I’m suggesting that gifted women ARE intimidating and they need to stop being intimidating. Is that how you’re reading this? Eek! It’s not what I meant. (although I guess I do say that you might want to know how to stop being scary to others… it was the question a reader asked in another post.) I want you all to speak up and to be strong and expressive and courageous and true to yourselves. Heck, yeah! What I’m saying is more about giving you ideas about how to manage people who are intimidated when you need to deal with them, which I’m sure many of you do. Does that make sense? Thank you, hksounds, and all of you for sharing your thoughts. You help all of us sort these complex things out!

      Liked by 3 people

      • For what it’s worth – I didn’t interpret this blog post that way, Paula.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it is empowering and emphatic, perhaps our responses are really about how we have been getting through life. One think I learned many years ago, much to my delight, was that when I shook off [consciously] everyone connected to me and simultaneously my toxic ex, I then found that people who I feel comfortable filled those spaces, i was more capable of being social when younger than now. It took me to getting into my 30’s to realise i have a choice about who I spend my time with. Before that, I think I felt obliged to give of myself to whoever wanted to take a bit of me, it was exhausting and depressing. So, after hitting rick bottom, and sitting with a group of people at rock bottom, I decided that was not going to be me, it gave me the will, and strength to rise again. Alhamdulillah. I think your blog is inspiring. Thank you! And timely – for the reasons I already mentioned. =)

        Liked by 4 people

        • When someone is gifted, others can want to be around you and to benefit from your abilities. It’s important to allow yourself to set limits with others and set healthy boundaries.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Thank you, yes, I’m slowly learning to set limits and to also set stronger limits even within those [I recently has someone offer to buy me a mobile phone so that i can have 24/7 access [or rather, so I can be avaiolable 24/7]. I just said no thank you, it is a conscious decision to not be available 24/7, and that the things I love to do, do not require technology, i grew up as a part of a generation who was not connected at the hip to tech. those times, feel like fresh air and free. =) I’m still learning the art though, and that i can say no, and do not have to answer every question ever put to me. Or be the only source of help, trying to problem solve for every facet of every problem brought to me, I’m even learning to redirect when it is clear that I should, or that I can! Learning to fill my own cup, before I help fill the cups of others. =) ❤

            Liked by 2 people

    • I agree: “Small talk, BS, trivialities, going along to get along, staying in your place, don’t rock the boat, etc., are luxuries that life on earth can no longer afford.” Thank you, hksounds.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve been well aware of my tendency to unintentionally intimidate others and have at times intentionally utilized this skill in tough situations. Though I was quite surprised recently when two of my close friends (who are both female PhDs as well) confided that they were both initially intimidated when we first met. YIKES! My response: “I thought my gregariousness and joviality set you at ease.” They both agreed that seems to be the solution for me at least. Glad you posted this Paula it’s always reassuring to know I’m not the only one.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I love this! Thanks Paula, bought tears to my eyes. I have been trying to get a grip on my finances and have just wandered into the world of the fabulous Lynne Twist, amazing teacher for all things money but also does amazing fundraising/advocacy for the Pachmama Alliance, front line defence of the Amazon forest. Yes, its the source of it all and from it comes our ability to breath and we hack away at it in the very same way we hack away at ourselves. I am working at radical self acceptance, radical self worth, radical self love and in that, perhaps if I’m not hacking so much at myself, others might stop hacking away at our life source. I thank you very much for your support in my endeavours, its certainly a tricky business. Much love x

    Liked by 4 people

  13. i have experienced this…but it has never really bothered me. i don’t mind people being scared of me. my problem is that i attract men who say they love this about me–but then they try to turn it against me–to punish me for it?
    i like who i am. i guess i wish others–whether it scares them or not–could accept it?
    i know…i keep trying to live in a perfect world.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. I need to counterbalance t his in my own life, in my own psyche. I ‘omit’ so much of myself – refuse so much of what WANTS to be investigated or tinkered with or designed out in twenty pages of graph paper – because it’s not normal. Because there is so much else life I’ve been taught must come first. And a little bit because it is intimidating to others when they happen to catch me doing Algebra or studying Welsh (which I do both in public) they don’t even want to IMAGINE the stuff I’m just shoving down and saying ‘it will wait’.. but it’s been waiting ten, twenty years… when will I ever let it wide open, and what am I missing? It’s like holding the closet door shut against the light sometimes… just to keep the atmosphere stable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, let’s open the door to the light! Maybe the atmosphere needs to be destabilized. Or maybe the light will make it more stable, even though we don’t think it will?? And you can open it slowly, if that makes it less scary. Thanks RheL.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Here’s where I am now – I hope I don’t sound like a misanthrope when really I am becoming a panbiophile, if that was not a word before, it is now. I look at what is around me and almost everything I see in the human activities, mythologies, religions, societies, economics, politics, architecture, art, literature, entertainment, education, and anything else you can name, leads me to think that almost the entire human species is afflicted with narcissism. We seem to think nothing else matters but us and I simply don’t believe that.

    You see how that can interfere with one’s social life? I can’t bear the self-centeredness anymore. I do suggest to others that we ought to be more concerned with what we are doing on a macro level. Mostly I’m ignored and generally it doesn’t make for the happiest of encounters. I sublimate by teaching my students to think and analyze more, and to be questioners. For most of them, it’s very hard work and I’m not sure just how interested they are in trying.

    Going to Africa last year was an eye opener. I saw the wildlife living their own lives, full of drama, tragedies and delights but with a complete lack of interest in us, people. That was so liberating. It gave me a rare perspective that made me more aware of other living beings and being in a living and breathing environment/ecosystem deeply increased my understanding of the interconnectedness of all life. I went to Africa again in January and I will go back again next year. It’s the only antidote to the sickness I see in contemporary human society.

    (A bit longwinded and I could expand on all of these topics but surely that isn’t necessary.)

    Liked by 5 people

    • Not too longwinded. It’s hard not to be pretty discouraged by humanity these days.


    • I like you. I just followed your blog. 🙂

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my misanthropy/panbiophilia. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Hksounds, I used to be very much anti investing in me, but, I have learned that not everything that brings us to focus a little on ourselves is really narcissism, sometimes, we can be so opposed to placing ourselves as a priority in our own lives to our detriment. I have learned to challenge my sense of always being the one to sacrifice, always the one to relegate my wishes, hopes and aspirations to the ‘one day, never…’ realm. If our aims are to truly be productive in society, we have to take care of ourselves first, if we are running on an exhausted ’empty’, we really do not have anything left to give. I also learned, we can be super harsh and critical of ourselves, in a way we would never treat any other person, and so, am learning to treat myself as I treat others, Alhamdulillah, life feels much healthier and less bereft of the qualities I love, so I think it is healthy to adopt a care for myself so I can care more for others attitude. I think it is finding a fine balance so we don’t become all about self though, or harm others inadvertently on the way. =) Many people, especially in puclic platforms can be incredibly demotivating, and make us wonder where on earth are we headed? But, I have met some beautifl treasures too. I hope you find yourself surrounded by the kind of people who give you hope and lift you up, and help each other to be the kind of humane people we all love to see more of in the world. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks, I appreciate knowing there are others with similar feelings. I write, also, and want to get more of these ideas into my writing but there are so many constraints imposed. How have you managed to overcome them or are you still working on that?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: When People Find Your Intellect Intimidating — A Guide For Gifted Women — Your Rainforest Mind – Suman Freelancer

  18. Once again your post speaks to my experience in a way that few ever have. I wish I had such wisdom and assurance when I was an adolescent. Now I’m raising an intimidating adolescent. I’ve learned the hard way to yield and be quiet and not be frustrated with others.

    I still don’t get how little ol’ me is intimidating but I’ve been told often that I am. It’s hard to understand that everyone else doesn’t live in this dense vibrant rainforest- that in fact very few others do that I encounter. Realizing that I am different has helped the patience factor and to tone down the intensity a bit when necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great advice – and validation for women who struggle to be true to themselves. Wonderful article!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. For me it’s always, always about my purpose and intention in the moment- just because other individuals are willing to spend the riches that is their life on cheap knockoff crap (such as banal conversations, boring interactions, hours of whittling away at their lives doing meaningless things in mundane fashion) doesn’t mean that’s what *I* am up for. If the conversation isn’t taking me further into my purpose and intention then I have other places and spaces to be- with the modern world’s tech there is never a reason to be engaged in life and inspiration draining activities.

    Load your smartphone with podcasts, articles or videos that you want to catch up on, take a journal and art pens with you, load your scriptwriting software into your tablet, write an article for your gifted community while others are doing the intellectual equivalent of rearranging their sock drawer. What if Frida Kahlo had allowed herself to be engaged in mind numbing boredom for large parts of her day? If the crew you are with can’t handle your fire then you’re with the wrong crew- find the right one, even if it’s a scattered group of individuals online. Find your purpose and passion and practice giving yourself *full permission to go there*, regardless of what others think or feel- there are lots of individuals out there who think and feel all kinds of astounding rubbish, we can’t afford to get caught up in that noise lest we get dragged into the quicksand with them. So don’t!

    Today I am championing your absolute right to be as weird, difficult to handle and outrageous as you wish because you only have this one shining, amazing life right here, with each day one you will never get back. Get a Frida Kahlo (or whoever else inspires you) badge and look at it often, take courage and inspiration from those that refused to allow their light to be compressed for any reason.

    I love Richard Feynman’s quote regarding this idea of not fitting in intellectually- “If I could explain it to the average person I wouldn’t have been worth the Nobel Prize”. Find what *your* personal Nobel Prize is and go for that, because the average person is *never* going to get what you’re doing. Be passionately yourself because nobody else can do what it is you’re brilliant at the way *you* are going to do it. Now that I think about it, I need that Feynman quote on a badge. 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  21. For many years, I worked with a group of people who respected and appreciated my depth of knowledge, excellent memory, and ability to problem solve. We were all working toward the same goal, and it was an asset to have me on the team. Even now, years later, my former boss/coworkers will call or email me out of the blue with obscure problems. I’ve even had strangers contact me to tell me that someone (from that time) had suggested they talk to me because I might be able to help.

    Fast forward to my current job. How dare I suggest a way to do something better!! Instead of appreciating that I know things, I’m told, “I don’t need to keep all that useless information in my head, I can just look it up;” Rather than ask for advice up front, the team just blunders along, doing things wrong, and end up resenting me when they have to get me to fix their mistakes.

    Guess what, I’m great at the “don’t be intimidating” game. I go to my office and pretend I have to do research to find the information that I can find in ten seconds. I censure my vocabulary. I putter around in between projects so I’m not always the first person done. Everyone else plays games to win; I play to see how close I can come to winning, while still coming in second.

    The difference between the two groups isn’t *me* and how I play the game. People aren’t intimidated because of my abilities; they are intimidated by their own insecurities.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Funnily enough, it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve realized that I probably intimidate people. Just as I’m getting over being intimidated by how “together” every one else is. Took me a while to realize that just about everyone is looking at the world the same way, with the same self-doubt. In just about everyone, you can find yourself.

    I’ve always been fascinated by people – the why behind the emotions & actions. And I’ve unintentionally developed a way of thinking that analyzes for patterns in everything. Much of my social interaction consists of observation, pattern detection and waiting for the right moment to interject a thought that encompasses a different perspective than the ones being professed in the conversation – tweak it a bit. An example was during my knitting group last week. Most of my friends are older than I am – of my parent’s generation. The other night, these lovely ladies were discussing their dark circles, horrible skin (pshaw!), and wrinkles. When the conversation was slowing down, I mentioned that maybe they were supposed to look like they do. Maybe those dark circles were normal for a human. Conversation came to a shocked stop. With grins. I have a good group of friends 🙂

    So I suggest giving them something to mentally chew on. Spread the love of learning. Make ’em smarter, more curious, more emotionally healthy. Contribute, but don’t dominate. It’s intellectually stimulating for you too.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. This is almost funny. My sister has always told me I intimidate people. I’ve always scoffed. Well, most of the time I’ve scoffed, there have been times when I’ve had to admit she had a point. But it wasn’t until I read this that I got it. You’re tips on managing it? Yep. That’s me. I quit correcting people’s grammar years ago, but I still interrupt with my ideas (working on that, it’s rude, I know but I get so excited) and I sit looking bored in PTA meetings while they ditther about whether we should do green or pink decorations for the next party. I’m guilty. And that kind of finally explains it, so thank you. I know you’re not trying to tell us to behave differently, I do get your point, but by giviing those examples, I feel like I can finallly see where I occasionally alienate people. I’ll probably still do it, because it’s not really conscious, but at least I understand it now.

    Interestlingly, this isn’t usually a problem with men. Well, it is wiith some men, I guess, but it’s more often a problem with women. I’m not particularly ambitious, at least in the worldly sense, so I’ve probably never been a threat to men at the office.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do think the interrupting can be because of the excitement, like you say, and sincere desire to share and contribute. Also because of how quickly the gifted mind works. So I don’t think that there’s a rude intention for sure. It just can be interpreted that way. (and it can be so hard to wait when you’re continually around people who are much slower thinkers)

      And I do think that it’s different for men. Hopefully, more of our male readers will share their experiences here. Thank you, Sarah.


  24. I find often people either tend to try to pump me for information and suggestions (which they then do not give me credit for and execute badly as they don’t understand the neccessary steps to successfully implement them – sometimes with awful -in my view- consequenses). Or they just pump me for ideas and what they can get rather than thinking of asking about or trying to help with my needs. A few are not like this and those I tend to treasure.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. My Grandma got me tested and identified as gifted as a child, and had the IQ of an adult at about 10 or 11. Or maybe 9 I can’t remember what the report said fully, only read it once and don’t have access to it now. I have a very difficult relationship with particularly my mother, brother and sister, who now either attempt to manipulate or lie to or about me (which I see through but not everyone does or asks), pump me for information (ditto), or who either speak to me as if I am a half-wit (which is pretty much how I consider them on the whole) or evil and intent on harming them (which is not the case). They have polluted many of my relationships with lies and secrecy and as a result I now find it very difficult to communicate with them. (My Mother is currently asking me to communicate via a partner in a top 100 law firm).

    My mother and brother either fabricate things or try and re-write facts and our history constantly and I find it stressful and exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this, Victoria. I write about coping with “chainsaw parents” and about psychotherapy that can help. If you use the search engine, you can find those posts. Maybe they’ll help. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow, I do ALL of the things in that paragraph! I came to find info about my son (who is five) and now wonder if I shouldn’t be reading more about myself. Thanks so much for the information here; can’t wait to keep reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Paula, my eyes welled up with tears when I read your article. Wow! Everything you said was spot on. BUT by the time I was done reading, I was laughing! Those are some of the mechanisms I’ve had to use to survive. Does your book have more suggestions? And why do people have to be so easily intimidated and can’t be glad that others are curious about life? Thanks for publishing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you for this Paula, it really resonates! It reminded me of a recent study that showed that if you are up to 30 IQ points above your peers, they respect you (e.g. as a boss), but more than that and they resent you. A boss with too high IQ is rejected. (I would expect this to be even more the case for women.)
    We discussed the findings in depth in our online Mensa FB group. It seemed a common experience. So in terms of how you deal with it, one suggestion could be that if you have an IQ of 160 you’d need to be hanging out with people of IQ 130+ (i.e. top 2% of general population) to not be resented. And of course you’d want to have people of IQ 190 around you to learn from too!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. The one tactic not mentioned in the article is to discreetly plant your ideas in other people, especially before a group meeting type setting. Then they bring it up, you help flesh it out, and everybody wins. You may not get “credit” but you get to see the results in the end. (I’m mostly thinking of volunteer organizations here, not sure how it might backfire in paid employment.)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I was having a conversation with a friend just this morning about how I see my teenage daughter becoming isolated socially because of others being intimidated by her – so this blog discovery was very well timed! Because others find her intimidating acquaintances often do get to know the beautiful soul that she is – either by not approaching her, inviting her, etc – and this has made her lonely. I’ve encouraged her to reach out to others, be the “inviter”, etc. Realizing that others find her intimidating and that this is why others don’t approach her (rather than not liking her) has been helpful. I also see so many of the suggestions used by both her and me (she carries her bullet journal with her everywhere she goes, I observe human behavior and challenge myself to communicate in a way that creates stronger bonds as I found intellectualuzing all my conversations (knowing the outcomes of conversations before they happened and focusing on this) made me listen less to the others, which minimized the emotional aspect of relating with others. Rather than flexing my intellectual muscle in conversations, I am trying to exercise and build my emotional muscle. I find this makes me much less intimidating and connected to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Eureka! I understand why I was recommended, by my supervisor, to be a better listener in my most recent job performance :p

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Haha I am usually the person who is intimidated by (me a female btw). It’s usually really not the other person’s fault. Cannot endorse more on sharing one’s vulnerability and initiating conversations if one wants to be less intimidating.

    Adding 1 data point: I usually get intimidated by people who are more knowledgeable in my subfield (which is Theoretical Computer Science), do not seem to have interest to speak to us lesser human being (the person has not granted me the right to speak with them — ahhhh), and refers often to their better-than-most record when others are struggling (e.g. a TA comforting us that he wrote his hw in 20 hours when he took the class, and takes 4-5h now to write a complete solution — when we just mentions a lot of people took 40-50 h).

    Really the problem is myself. Being in a subfield with a a large number of gold metal winners in competitions and geniuses, I often question whether I have passed the IQ gateway to be permitted to choose this field (I did not even get into Putnam top 500, which is a university level math competition). Anyone who seems to support the idea(in my head) that I am hitting the rock with an egg makes me intimidated.

    One day I will be a grown up and fix it! Meanwhile big thank you to those who have been caring enough to reduce their intimidation level!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a very competitive field that you’re in, Linda. I can see how it might be intimidating. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint.


      • Thanks for your understanding! Most professors in my subfield are in fact surprisingly friendly, displaying very few intimidating behaviors. Even the phds attempt to be welcoming (my TA is too awkward to be of any success in this). Computer Security is probably the most competitive subfield in CS — for them it’s about who is the smartest. Fortunately it’s a proven fact that there are infinitely many math theorems. The difficulty comes from making any real contribution, and wondering if one can ever make any. I think I will be more confident once(if) I have actually figured something out :p.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. I know this is a post from a few months ago but I just think of that song now, “You might not like me”. It’s a pretty simple song but the message is not horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I just wanted to say how grateful I was to find this post in the cyber world today, and to know there are other intelligent souls struggling to find human interaction without also sacrificing genuine self. I don’t know if it’s possible fully, but I’m glad to know at least it’s not a purely me problem.

    It is so difficult to turn it off when I’m in a group setting. I want to know the things people normally don’t want to share–my mind just digs away seeking the things that interest it–and I’m sure it’s not fun to feel like a bug under my microscope. I think it’s especially hard for women because in group settings we’re asked to be mirrors, to set the norms for each other and forever compare and conflict in some pointless, ancient ritual of social competitiveness. I compliment freely and get insecurity back because the ritual I think is pointless, others are living as truth. If you’re incapable of being a mirror because of willful spirit or lack of reflective empathy, you’re perceived as an outsider. And if you see you can simply use being a mirror to reveal the inner depths of another person’s vulnerability, they tend to freak and not enjoy that sort of interaction after the fact. But the other options seem to be talking about the weather, or random pop culture, or paint drying on the wall–or just words for the sake of words, even if they make no sense, but they just keep spilling from people’s mouths because they’re intimidated by the silence even more. So the game is to figure out what makes people tick while they talk about the mundane if only to give my brain something to keep it interested.

    It probably sounds sociopathic, but I’m pretty sure society is too flawed to be set as a norm of healthy behavior anyways. When you realize total strangers react with defensiveness whenever you speak, where every insecurity they have is suddenly about you because your existence feels like a threat to their perceptions of reality and security, or they try to turn you into the role of therapist or mirror or less than instead of just letting you be yourself… It’s a tiring existence, and being alone is so much easier. But I like to enjoy life with others some days. So thank you for the positive jungle spin on a rather difficult existence. It might not be the answer of how not to freak people out, but at least I feel less isolated in this particular problem.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.