Some of the most embarrassing things to have happen in a conversation, even while making simple small talk, is to latch onto people you know or to stumble into a topic that you are not well-versed in, winging it as you sink faster into the quicksand of poor first impressions. We've all had these conversational faux pas, and while it may seem irrevocable, remember, there's always next time. Here are five simple tips to avoid looking stupid, nervous, or like a loner while trying to make small talk.

KNOW YOUR STUFF - Don't make things up. If you are unsure about a particular fact or figure, or whether or not a particular event in fact occurred, do not hesitate to say you don't know or are unsure. Nothing makes a person look more stupid than when they insist that erroneous facts or figures are true, only later to be discovered that they're false. Prepare as best you can, try to discuss only that which you know intimately, and admit when you are in doubt about something.

APPEAR CONFIDENT, EVEN WHEN YOU'RE NOT - If you appear to not be bothered with your own possible ignorance, chances are your conversation partner won't be either. The easiest way to look stupid in a conversation is to be completely unsure of your self, to stutter and stumble and hesitate because you are nearly paralyzed with fear about making a wrong move or an incorrect statement. The sad thing is, this has much less to do with actual intelligence than it does with self-esteem and building self-confidence.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK QUESTIONS - It's not just okay to ask questions when you are unsure about something, it is a good conversation skill!. It is commonly thought that asking questions reveals ignorance, but in fact appropriate questions reveal you to be a thoughtful, careful engaged person. Even "stupid" questions seldom are, because it's always a good idea to clear things up beforehand wherever possible. Good conversation skills involves interest and interest is shown through questions.

AVOID STATEMENTS - Statements are the exact opposite of questions in the course of a conversation. Even the good and correct ones never come off the way they are supposed to, they often kill conversations or turn them into contentious debates, and above all, statements make you seem to be close-minded while questions reflect the opposite. Statements are a good conversation skill when done right and they keep the conversation going, but make sure you "know your stuff" and express yourself in a friendly manner.

RIGHT OR WRONG, DON'T BE ARROGANT - Being wrong often doesn't make you look stupid. What does, however, is simple arrogance. Arrogant people are loners. Even if you're right about something, being arrogant about it, rubbing people's faces in it and lording it over everyone else makes you appear insecure, and yes, stupid. It makes you seem as though you are overcompensating for a deficiency, and that deficiency is often assumed to be intelligence.

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