How to Better Communicate with a Person Who Stutters

This week, Speech Associates of New York continues our series on stuttering. Often people are uncomfortable when speaking with someone who stutters and, unsure of how to react, they attempt to “help” the stutterer in ways that can actually be detrimental. Here are some tips that will help you to better communicate with a person who stutters:

Don’t Interrupt: When a person who stutters is having difficulty getting a word or phrase out, many people will try to end their sentences or say the word for them. While this may feel like you’re being helpful, it conveys to the stutterer that you are impatient with how they are speaking and may make them feel rushed. Wait, and allow the person to finish what it is they are saying, even if it appears to be difficult.

Slow Down: Keep your own speech slow and relaxed. If you are talking at a breakneck speed, it will make your listener feel they have to keep up the pace. This pressure to speak quickly can often worsen a stutter. Slow your words down so that your speech more closely matches that of your conversation partner.

Eye Contact: Often when someone begins to stutter, people will look away in an attempt to “take the pressure off.” However, this typically just appears as though your interest is wandering. Make sure your conversation partner knows that you are not so distracted by how they are speaking that you’ve lost interest in what it is they’re saying.

Check in again next week when we’ll have more great tips on how to communicate with a person who stutters.

Have a question about a speech or language disorder or a suggestion for what you’d like to read about in the future? Let us know in the “comments” section!

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