Book Smart v Street Smart – could a lack of common sense be holding you back in life?


Common sense is a form of practical decision-making and the ability to imagine the consequences of something you do. It stops us making irrational mistakes and makes it easier to make choices on what to do.  We aren’t born with common sense, we develop it over time.

It’s the common-sense view to look before crossing the road, to bring the washing in from the line outside when it’s raining, not to leave a candle alight when you go out of the house, to complete the urgent and important task first, but it’s not common to everyone.

Some people find it harder to think through the consequences of their actions and need to learn common sense. And for some highly intelligent people they never will learn the common-sense way, but they then go on to make important discoveries to change the world such as Einstein and Elon Musk.

With intelligence you will understand the reason it is raining, but the common-sense view is to stay out of the rain or to take an umbrella or raincoat.

I’ve been working with Green Flag to promote their Common Sense Campaign. Yesterday I took part in a radio day – Alongside – from Green Flag we took part in 15 Radio Interviews with stations such as Spectrum Sine, London, BBC Hereford and Worcester and Proper Sport (Radio Yorkshire) (where we also had to give football tips!).

I like these events, they are fun, but keeps me on my toes. I want to share psychological research findings but to do it in a popular and pragmatic way.

Here are some key findings from the research conducted by Censuswide in January 2018

  • 79% of Brits value common sense over a high IQ, while 70% believe having common sense is more important than having a degree.
  • 69% of Brits wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t have common sense, 30% of Brits admitted to having witnessed a colleague being held back at work thanks to their lack of common sense and a fifth of workers say up to four hours of their working week is disrupted by mistakes made by colleagues with a lack of common sense.


We want to be with people who display common sense as it makes our life easier; they share a common view on what needs to get done, appreciate the needs of the team and will properly complete a task and meet their deadlines.  It can often mean that we need to manage them more closely and this scuppers their chance of promotion.


  • Over two thirds (68%) of Brits believe common sense is more important in a potential partner than good looks. 48% of Brits wouldn’t date someone who lacked in common sense, and 20% have dumped a romantic partner due to their lack of common sense.

When our partner doesn’t have common sense it can make us feel like their mother or carer, constantly having to remind them to do things that most people would do with ease – put the bins out, lock the door, turn the oven off etc.  These people often fail to turn up on time and to do the things we want. We can train them, but it’s an uphill struggle. Parents can help their children learn common sense.

How about you? Are you someone with common sense? Or do you have a story to share? I’d love to hear from you.


Published On: February 14th, 2018 / Categories: Career Management, Personal Development /

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