9 phrases only truly wise people use, according to psychology

Mia Zhang by Mia Zhang | June 17, 2024, 7:08 pm

Being wise isn’t just showing off your knowledge; it’s understanding and applying it in a meaningful way.

Psychology suggests that the words we use can reveal a lot about our wisdom.

Indeed, there are certain phrases that only the truly wise tend to use.

In this article, we’re going to explore these phrases, giving you a glimpse into the language of wisdom. 

1) “I don’t know.”

Not knowing something is a fact of life.

That’s why acknowledging it is a mark of wisdom.

Psychologically, admitting when you don’t know something is a sign of wisdom. 

Why is this so?

Because wisdom doesn’t mean you know everything. It means you understand the limits of your knowledge and are open to learning more.

When faced with a situation or question they don’t have an answer to, they don’t pretend to know. Instead, they admit their ignorance and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Saying “I don’t know” is a sign of wisdom, not weakness. It shows a willingness to accept their limitations and an openness to new knowledge, both hallmarks of true wisdom.

2) “Let’s look at this from a different perspective.”

The ability to see things from various perspectives is a significant attribute of wisdom.

I remember hearing this back when I was struggling with a problem at work. I was fixated on a certain approach and was getting nowhere.

It was from a colleague who I respect for their wisdom who came over and said, “Let’s look at this from a different perspective.”

That simple phrase helped me break free from my tunnel vision. We started discussing alternative viewpoints, and it opened up a whole new range of solutions that I hadn’t considered before.

By challenging me to shift my perspective, my colleague wasn’t manipulating me into thinking their way. Instead, they were guiding me towards expanding my own understanding.

This phrase is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the wise, enabling them to encourage open-mindedness and foster learning without being overbearing or manipulative.

3) “This, too, shall pass.”

Life is full of ups and downs.

The phrase “This too shall pass” is a reminder of the transient nature of life’s experiences.

Derived from a Persian adage, this phrase has been used by various figures throughout history, from poets to presidents.

It serves as a comforting reminder during challenging times and a humbling reality check during moments of triumph.

Because wisdom means understanding the cyclical nature of life—the good times may not last forever, but neither do the bad times.

By saying “This too shall pass”, wise people acknowledge this reality without getting caught up in the intensity of a single moment.

4) “I made a mistake.”

Fear of admitting mistakes is something that holds many back.

But for the truly wise, the phrase “I made a mistake” is not an admission of weakness but an acknowledgment of their humanity and fallibility.

Wisdom comes from understanding that we are all prone to making mistakes. It’s not the mistake that defines us, but how we respond to it.

Owning up to our errors allows us to take responsibility for our actions, learn from them, and make amends where necessary.

For example, when you realize you’ve given incorrect information in a meeting, being wise means you won’t try to cover it up or shift the blame. You’ll simply say, “I made a mistake” and proceed to correct it.

This honesty and humility foster trust and respect in personal and professional relationships.

5) “I understand your viewpoint.”

Wisdom isn’t about imposing our views on others, but about understanding and respecting differing perspectives.

This is why truly wise people often use the phrase, “I understand your viewpoint.”

This phrase conveys empathy and respect for the other person’s thoughts and feelings. It shows the listener that their opinion matters and that it’s being taken into account.

For instance, in a heated discussion where tempers might rise, saying, “I understand your viewpoint,” shows wisdom.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the other person’s perspective. Rather, it indicates a willingness to listen and understand.

This isn’t a tactic to manipulate or win an argument; it’s a demonstration of emotional intelligence and wisdom.

6) “I appreciate you.”

Truly wise people understand the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation.

They frequently use phrases like, “I appreciate you,” not as a manipulative tool but as a genuine expression of gratitude.

This phrase goes beyond acknowledging someone’s actions or achievements.

It recognizes their inherent worth as a person, making them feel valued and appreciated—not for what they do, but for who they are.

Remember, wisdom is not just a show of knowledge and intelligence; it’s also having emotional depth and the ability to connect with others on a meaningful level.

7) “I need help.”

When I was launching my first business, I tried to do everything on my own.

I soon found myself overwhelmed and on the brink of burnout. It was then that I realized the importance of reaching out and saying, “I need help”.

Asking for help didn’t diminish my capabilities or worth. Instead, it allowed me to delegate tasks, manage my time better, and prevent burnout.

Not to mention, it also opened up opportunities for collaboration and learning from others!

In reality, admitting when you need assistance is a sign of strength and wisdom. It shows that you understand that we all have limits and that there’s no shame in seeking support.

Remember, having wisdom doesn’t mean you have all the answers or can do everything alone; it means you know when you need support and are brave enough to ask for it.

8) “Let’s agree to disagree.”

In a world full of diverse viewpoints and opinions, disagreements are inevitable.

How we handle these disagreements can be a true testament to our wisdom. 

This phrase is not about conceding defeat in an argument but about acknowledging and respecting the other person’s viewpoint, even when it doesn’t align with your own.

For instance, in a heated discussion where neither party is willing to change their stance, a wise way to end the argument amicably is by saying, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

This allows both parties to maintain their perspectives without causing further conflict.

9) “We are all learning.”

We are all perpetual students in the school of life. This is why truly wise people often say, “We are all learning”.

This phrase embodies the humility and openness that characterize wisdom. It acknowledges that, no matter how much we know, there’s always more to learn.

It serves as a reminder that everyone, regardless of age, status, or experience, is on a continuous journey of learning and growth.

In fact, to be wise, you don’t have to have all the answers; you simply need to open yourself up to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives.

In essence, wisdom isn’t a destination but an ongoing journey.

And as we navigate this journey, it helps to remember that we are all learning.

Final thoughts: The power of phrases

The phrases we use can say a lot about our level of wisdom. They can reveal our ability to empathize, our willingness to learn, and our understanding of the ever-changing nature of life.

As Socrates once said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

It’s this humble pursuit of knowledge and understanding that defines true wisdom.