The Wall Street Journal reports today on research regarding how people try to appear intelligent to others. One major conclusion: the techniques and approaches utilized by many people may actually backfire. They use tactics that do not at all make them look intelligent. In fact, it may actually harm their credibility and ability to influence others. The article summarizes a key finding from research by Professor Nora Murphy of Loyola Marymount University:
People who tried to appear intelligent risked exposing what they didn’t know, the research shows. Observers were more accurate in estimating the IQs—including lower IQs—of those instructed to act intelligent than in estimating the IQs of controls who weren’t given any instructions. Apparently, participants’ attempts at impression management actually magnified other cues signaling low intelligence.
What types of techniques can backfire? For example, using big words and complex sentences may be counterproductive. You don't impress people. Instead, you make yourself the object of ridicule. I'm sure it's particularly bad if you misuse particular words!