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How to Look Like You Know What You're Talking About, by Craig Ferguson

Pretending to know something you don’t is born from insecurity. When I was younger and single, it was an attempt to impress potential sexual partners. I nodded my head and did a lot of, “Oh yes, mmm hmm, I agree,” when I wasn’t even listening. But there’s a point where you have to come clean and say, “I’ve been nodding this whole time, but I have no idea what you’ve been talking about.” If you say that, you’ll quickly find out the type of person you’re dealing with.

If you’re supposed to know something and you don’t, try listening. I don’t mean fake listening but real listening. When I talk to an actor who’s on the show to promote a movie, I usually don’t watch it ahead of time. Why? He can just explain it to me. But I have to pay attention to what he says. If you do that, you’ll appear really invested in the person and what they’re doing.

But you don’t have to fake it if you don’t want to. Ignorance is a perfectly reasonable position to take in a conversation. I don’t know everything you do. If I did, why would I bother talking to you? —As told to Claire Suddath

Ferguson is host of The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. 

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