No guidebook to human relations


By Mohau Khupa

I have not always known that I did not need an interpersonal communication guidebook to have more meaningful conversations. I would think it’s just a silly anxiety when it was self-doubt all along.

I could have thought I needed anything else when all I needed was the confidence to start a conversation and make the most of it. Now I’m more confident and less anxious about my next conversations. So glad you’re reading this.

Growing up, my friend, Moeketsi and I, would go out after school to get some girls. I would play out conversations I had not yet had; with girls I had not met yet. Some days were better than others. On better days, I would manage to lead the conversation into a direction I had anticipated.


On worst days, I wouldn’t and the conversation would take an unprecedented turn. When it did play out as I thought it would, some days it felt like déjà vu, and it sucked a little bit, because it was not as spontaneous as it would otherwise be.

I had always understood that preparation will come through for me but I was missing the point. The point was, no amount of preparation would make it any less uncertain for me how a girl would respond when I told her I thought she was just my type. Anticipating how she would take my advances wasn’t going to make me sharp, sharpening my confidence was.

Sometimes I would up my game and work on my vocabulary. I would cram big words from the dictionary and conversation starters from guidebooks, most of which I would forget when the nerves kicked in.

I understood that I needed to prepare for those conversations and I had acknowledged that working on my vocabulary was a step in the right direction but cramming words was a dead end road. It wouldn’t take me far. I did not understand at the time that big words are almost pathetic without the confidence to say them. It had not dawned on me that for a confident man, big words are not in fact any more charming than simple words. I needed to invest more in my confidence about any conversation than the anticipation of how my next conversations would unfold.

I needed to find something to do, something I would brag about. I started writing songs from a young age. I would write Trey Songz songs lyrics in a separate book. I found it very funny later when I checked the official song lyrics on the internet and discovered that what I thought I heard Trey sing was a miss. Back then I couldn’t care less about missing the words. I had the confidence to sing ‘You Belong to Me’ for my girl and I was content. Later I would then write my own songs.

Writing my own hip-hop songs at a time when hip-hop music was the coolest among our generation meant I would have all the girls. I have since been confident to walk out of a toxic conversation intact and feeling good. ‘m now confident to talk to women and play around with the idea that I can be everything their men are not.

The confidence that I have now isn’t fuddled by the uncertainty of how my next conversations will go. I take each conversation, however it goes, as a whole new lesson for me.