i've seen a couple of sources (c/p'ed below) claim that a difference of 15 points in intelligence scores makes it difficult for two people to understand one another. the person with higher IQ explains things in a way that is confusing to the person with low IQ, and generates insights and ideas that the lower IQ person cannot quickly grasp and contribute to. this creates a communication wall between them that prevents them from relating to each other. the lower IQ person can start resenting the higher IQ person for not slowing down and explaining things well, not realizing that the higher IQ person takes these things for granted., while the higher IQ person has no clue why the lower IQ person is so angry with them. other sources cite studies that show that people with higher intelligence may have poorer communication skills to begin with which hampers interaction with their peers.
is this similar to anyone's experience? are the communication skills of higher IQ scorers to blame or is there genuinely an understanding gap that prevents high/low IQ people from communicating effectively?
According to Leta Hollingworth’s research, to be a leader of his contemporaries a child must be more intelligent but not too much more intelligent than them. A discrepancy of more than about 30 points of IQ does not allow for leadership, or even respect or effective communication. Hollingworth notes: A lesson which many gifted persons never learn as long as they live is that human beings in general are inherently very different from themselves in thought, in action, in general intention, and in interests. Many a reformer has died at the hands of a mob which he was trying to improve in the belief that other human beings can and should enjoy what he enjoys. This is one of the most painful and difficult lessons that each gifted child must learn, if personal development is to proceed successfully. It is more necessary that this be learned than that any school subject be mastered. Failure to learn how to tolerate in a reasonable fashion the foolishness of others leads to bitterness, disillusionment, and misanthropy [3, p. 259].
It is definitely the case that some intelligent people deserve the fear and hatred they inspire, though they may not share that view. Too many intelligent people debate like cats batting around a new shiny toy, looking, not so much for information and idea exchange, but rather for soft spots that they can swat for their own amusement. It is very natural that people with inferior knowledge or debating skills will then refuse to attempt to communicate. It is not fun to have a conversation with someone who is obviously bored with your ideas and must appear invincible at all times. Listening skills are essential for communication and both sides must not only be able to change their minds, but they must be seen to be able to change their minds.
A friend of mine, an academic psychologist, remarked offhandedly a few months ago that communication between two human beings is difficult if the gap between their IQs is as much as one standard deviation (i.e. 15 points). If you try communicating across gaps bigger than that, she said, mutual understanding quickly becomes impossible. I've been trying this out on people in conversation ever since. People register mild disapproval at first, with clicking of tongues and shaking of heads. Then, if you press the point, they furrow their brows and say something like: “Yes, I sort of know what you mean.” One friend, a professional software developer/entrepreneur, was more blunt. Way more blunt: Yes, I don't find myself in long conversations with people whose IQs are in the 11x or 10x ranges, let alone any lower. In software development projects us smarter team members end up having rapid fire complex conversations and at the end explain the conclusions to the lesser minds. If this is a fact about the human world, it's a pretty depressing one. The full range of human IQs you are likely to encounter spans about six standard deviations; so depending where you fall in the range, there could be an awful lot of people with whom, for you, mutually rewarding conversation is not possible. That number will be less, the nearer to the center of the distribution you are (i.e. IQ 100), more the further out on one of the “tails” you are. And the whole effect (if it is an effect) is masked by the fact that we spend most of our time with people whose IQ is roughly equal to our own. I suppose politicians target their utterances at the middle of the IQ range, or a few points above it (since the left-hand tail of the distribution doesn’t vote much). That gives them the biggest potential “catch.” Still, for any given speech by any given politician, there must, on my friend’s theory, always be tens of millions of Americans who have no clue what the guy is saying, and tens of million more who wonder why he’s talking down to us.
Genius-Failure Paradox. Chances are if you are like most people and myself, you would have noticed something distinguishable from the exercise. Those who were smartest in the class were generally not very popular due to poor social skills. (I know there are other measurements of communication than only popularity). They did not have good people skills. Presumptuous? Likely, no.
All intelligent people do not have poor people skills nor does all unintelligent people have good people skills. I know people will say, "But I know someone who is smart and great with people." Good. So do I. Intelligence and people skills are not mutually exclusive characteristics! Having one does not mean you cannot have the other.
What I'm proposing, which has been touched on and backed by a couple of authors and teachers, is that academically intelligent people fail in predictable areas of their lives, and they don't want to solve the dilemma. The genius-failure paradox describes that people who must feel smarter, wealthier, or generally superior to others refuse to seek help in dealing with people. (You can read more about superiority, inferiority, and the self-image.)
One particular smart flaw I used that Wagner mentioned was not starting a conversation because it would be a waste of time. The real reason I didn't start a conversation was my fear. I was scared ****less. Now I am more aware of my most common smart flaws, I stop myself in my tracks when I use them then identify the real reason why I'm rationalizing about my behavior. Whenever I do not talk to someone because it is a waste of time, I now realize it could be because I am not dealing with my emotions. I maybe hiding: the fear of talking to strangers, feelings of unhappiness, or the anxiety that I will be boring.
A second finding from the study of interest to us is that the best way children can develop the communication skills required for life are through organized activities. These groups should have children of diverse ages, experiences, and interests, as well as adult leaders that provide guidance to the young group. The adult leaders typically have a goal they want the children to achieve together. Team sports are a good example of activities that fit the described criteria to help children develop their social skills. Even for mature adults, interacting with diverse individuals improves their communication skills because it requires a person to adapt and understand different people.
The implications of these findings on this article are vague, but I present them to you for your curiosity. Do smarter people participate in fewer organized activities that fit the criteria of developing children's social skills? Do smarter people participate in more singular extra-curricular activities like learning to play a musical instrument? Is their a trade-off between social interaction and increasing your intelligence? Do the less-intelligent individuals spend their time in these socially-beneficial activities instead of studying?
One thing we do know is that social skills, and other communication skills, need to be practiced on a frequent basis. While people can naturally have the gift of the gab, be emotionally intelligent, or win friends very easily, communication skills atrophy without practice. I've repeatedly seen a person with poor communication skills experience a cyclic effect. Their poor communication thwarts them from putting themselves in situations that require those communication skills, which further decreases their social skills. Should a person have poor communication skills during their developmental and independent years, I believe they struggle to improve the skill for several reasons - mostly an over-reliance on their intellect.