7 tips for the gifted to improve your relationship with others

This is a request that often comes up among the gifted: how can I better understand myself with others, understand them and make me understand? Because yes, you can be gifted and struggle with simple stuff. Like successfully communicating with people who don't work like us.

The gifted (or HP, HQI or people with high intellectual potential) represent 2 to 2.2% of the population. The non-gifted therefore represent about 98% of the population, so logically a large majority of the people we meet and with whom we have daily interactions!

It is not a question of putting on a 'social mask' and hiding its specificity. But sometimes, we must learn to refocus on the essentials,the basics of human communication, bases that are valid for everyone, gifted or not…

Why does it "drink" with others?

Some explanations, but there are many others…

  • The gifted are people with brains who are over-efficient, who understand faster, and therefore can sometimes be quickly annoyed and weary when their interlocutors do not understand a concept, an idea that seems obvious to them. Whether it's an idea that comes from them, or from outside. And we do not necessarily have the patience to explain, to dissect the progression of our reasoning. Or simply to admit that the other cannot, or does not want, to understand what we are talking about, or the content of a course, of a documentary…
  • When we are gifted, we tend to be attracted by everything that is complex, and to get caught up*** in discussions that do not titillate our neurons enough. Or around topics that do not interest us. This is also a trait that we see in gifted children, who often say they are "bored at school". To put it simply, either it doesn't go fast enough, or it doesn't go far enough… So hard to hang on sometimes, when at the hairdresser they want us to talk about the rain and the good weather. We often want to engage in discussions on the consequences of climate change, or the mechanism of formation of tornadoes! (If that speaks to you, let me know in the comments…)
  • The gifted are people who think a lot and all the time, and can sometimes (often) miss attention and be distracted. Lost in his thoughts, which are also multiple and complex! It is then not easy to "get out of your head", and to connect to the outside. When you are gifted, you have been since birth, and the habit of "thinking", of being in "reflection" mode and sometimes "introspection" is difficult to lose. And then, we are well there, in our head: thinking is as a rule a pleasure for us.
  • One of the great difficulties in the daily life of the gifted is also the control of a brain that runs at a gallop, and the management of the tree of its thought. That is to say, the tendency to make many associations of ideas at the same time and this at a very fast speed. Our ideas go faster than speech, than writing. In a conversation, one can start from one idea and arrive at twelve others at the same time, which themselves were born from a series of sometimes very complex connections. We talk about the Mona Lisa, then the origin of aviation, because we thought leonardo da Vinci and his helicopter drawings. We do not even realize it, as the thought goes so fast. Difficult for others… that are not in our head, to follow, or even not to take us for crazy sometimes! This necessarily leads to delays in communication.
  • There is also thehypersensitivity of the gifted that comes into play. Some are emotional hypersensitive: they are more anxious, more stressed, or reactions more important in terms of intensity, than the average person in the face of unpleasant speech or a disturbing context. Others are hypersensitive sensory: too much noise, screams, lights or movements, and their ability to communicate, listen and respond is then impaired. We can be both, of course.

So what should we do?

Learn how to disconnect

As you will have understood, one of the tricks to learn is to calm the horse at a gallop. To put his bubbling brain in "centering on the other" mode rather than letting it record and analyze everything that happens around you, in addition to everything that is already happening in our head (the analysis of a book read the day before + the reflection on a problem to solve + an association of ideas that leaves in snowball …). Pause your thoughts (we will resume the thread later) and focus on the here and now,and the other.

For this, practicing a very physical sport, or an activity like drawing mandalas, can help you channel the incessant flow of your thoughts. Meditation and mindfulness too. You lose nothing by calming down and spreading the rhythm of your thoughts. Your brain is certainly a Formula 1, but it is in great need of rest (and slow sugars, and water, by the way). It is especially necessary to force him to slow down when bedtime arrives, to spend a good restorative night. But also when you go to meet others.

Relearn at E-COU-TER.

This is not only the basis of communication with others, but it also allows usto use our great analytical and sensitive capacities to "hear" everything that is said – and not said . The verbal, and the non-verbal. The tone of the voice, the hesitations, the movements of the body, the expressions of the face… 70% of communication goes through non-verbal. So if we are cogitating, letting ourselves be distracted and not being well "connected" to the other, we can miss the real message that sometimes hides behind the words. This is a valid advice for all, but even more so for the gifted. One tends to think quickly, and to think about the answer to send back – hardly the last word spoken by the other. But communicating is not a speed contest (nor a boxing match, as we will see below). On the contrary… learning to give a break before answering, to analyze well what has been said and expressed, allows to respond better. To be impassed with all the information you have received. But also, sometimes, to cash in an unpleasant word without reacting hot, in hyperemotion, too emotionally. This can lead to disputes and great suffering.

We breathe…

You can take some time and nod your head, simply, just to say, "I heard you." And even take a break,explaining what is happening in our head: "I think about what you just told me"…

Explaining who you are, and how you work

In some cases, it can be very useful to reveal yourself, to explain how you communicate. For example, when you meet a new person you will have to see again, a person you appreciate as a friend, or a new colleague. We don't necessarily want to say from goal to white "I'm a gifted person". Nor to swing at others that empty discussions annoy us to death, or that we think faster than them. Diplomacy, what on earth 🙂 … Even if it's close to the truth, to what we feel. It is easy to understand that a very large number of people will take this information as insults: "you annoy me, and you are less intelligent than me". It's not really ideal to be appreciated by others.

On the other hand, we can explain (with a smile, and a maximum of humility) that we are "someone who cogitates a lot". Self-derision and humility are lethal weapons in interpersonal communication. It is sometimes a great relief to say that we have all the time full of ideas and thoughts, that our brains go too fast for our language. Or that we are disturbed by the intense noise in this bar, this restaurant, this amusement park, and that we prefer to go elsewhere to be able to chat serenely.

We can also say: "What you say gives me a lot of ideas… ". This is indeed the case, so why hide it? First it's flattering for the other, and it earns you points. Then, it helps to illuminate why you are, indeed, going to express many ideas. But for this, take the time to explain, as much as possible, the path of your thought.

Reword sentences

… Yours, if you see that others have not understood anything. Especially if, like Proust, you have become accustomed to expressing yourself with sentences and explanations. But also those of others. To make sure you understand. It's a communicating thing, and it works with everyone, all the time, and not just when you (or the other) is gifted.

Accept the fact that not everyone can follow you

… and that what interests you is not of interest to everyone. It's hard, but that's life: not everyone will appreciate you. And for some, it will be partly because they do not understand what you are saying, the ideas and concepts you are talking about. Or that they prefer simpler and lighter topics. For others, it's because they feel slow, or stupid, or ignorant when they're by your side. And yes… And this, even if you are careful not to monopolize the floor, impress the gallery with your reasoning, or keeping your knowledge for yourself. In this case, hang up: if your interlocutors do not follow you, do not insist. Listen, and try to see what interests them, to understand how they think, how they see the world. And eventually, if it doesn't stick, wait until the end of the interaction, then gently take off…

It is better to have peace than to be right

Like all the previous tips, it requires training, but I'm also going to give you a motivation to change…

The first mistake that many people make, gifted or not, is to want to intervene, to give one's opinion, to interrupt the other, and to move on to the next idea when (for you), we have done the rounds and we must move forward. Think of the other one in front of you! Interrupting someone is very rude, vexing, and gives the impression that you want to gain the upper hand over him or her. Similarly, forcing him to go at your own pace, and evacuating his idea because it seems too simple to you and you think you have to go faster and further, is still imposing "his law". Give others time to infuse what you say,and if you see that you have gone too fast and/or too far, take a step back and (see above) explain your reasoning.

But above all… learn not to say everything you know, everything you have understood. We go a little beyond the framework of interpersonal communication, but when we are gifted, therefore intelligent, and often, anyway, quite cultured, we tend to "spread out our science". Because you are passionate, because you can't stand injustice and you want to restore the truth – a characteristic that is very present in many gifted people. And often, even if others know a lot too, it's annoying. No one likes to hear that they are wrong, or that you know more than they do. You will be "Mr/Mrs. I Know Everything", mis judged, rejected, and this is unfair, because you offer your knowledge, your ideas and your advice for free!

So take the side of telling you that your ideas, your intelligence, your knowledge, are riches that we must offer only to the people who ask you for them. And why not tell you that if these are your "riches", others may have to pay to get them! It's a way to learn to hold back when you absolutely want to be right. This is how you will get the most important: the affection of others, and peace in the group.

Change to heal from the past and improve one's present

If in the past, you have had the impression of being out of step with the students in your class, your friends, your colleagues or worse, with the other members of your family, of being misunderstood and put aside, you necessarily keep traces of it. It may also have developed a tendency to stop expressing yourself, or to do so offensively, so that we can listen to you, finally. The problem is that it hurts you directly. Many gifted people (including me, so I know what I'm talking about) have experienced loneliness, unhappiness, mental distress, psychological problems… In addition, when communication with others is difficult, one develops little or no potential and communication skills. Some don't even know how to approach a new person, speak emphatically (and not like a book), understand humor, or cash in on a somewhat "borderline" joke. Not to mention the changing fashions and vocabulary…

If this is the case, start practicing using these few tips, with people who look like you first if it reassures you, but not only. Those who choose to associate only with the gifted, on forums or in groups, will not develop new communication skills… with the 98% of the world's population not gifted! Gradually, the more you interact with different people, the more confident you will be,and the more you will feel understood, listened to, and I hope for you, appreciated. To surround one's own people is to enrich one's own wealth. Again, listen to others as much as you talk to them. Especially if you are used to talking only with yourself, most of the time. There are different forms of intelligence, not just logico-mathematical intelligence! Some are "pros" of social intelligence, and frequenting them will allow you to develop your capacity for empathy, adaptation, humility and hindsight.

This does not mean dating people you do not like, or who are toxic to you. Beware of manipulators and narcissists! There are more than seven billion human beings on earth, and you have the right to make your choice!

Feel free to leave me your comments!

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Sophie Barbarella

Writer and Public Speaker

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