It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population (68 million people) speak with a stutter. This week, Speech Associates of NY continues our discussion on strategies for better communicating with a person who stutters.
Don’t Tell Them to Relax: People often misunderstand stuttering as a psychological affliction and think that if the stutterer relaxed, they would speak normally. While stress or perceived pressure may exacerbate a stutter, it is not the actual cause of the speech difficulty. A person may be perfectly comfortable in a situation and still stutter. By telling a person who stutters to “relax” or “slow down”, you draw attention to their difficulty and often make them uncomfortable. If a person you are speaking to is having difficulty getting a word or phrase out, do not offer advice; simply be patient and wait for them to finish.
Don’t Pretend to Understand: If you cannot understand what a person has said because of a stutter, politely ask them to repeat themselves, just as you would any other conversation partner. An individual who stutters is generally aware that others occasionally have difficulty understanding their speech. By being honest about the fact that you didn’t understand and asking for clarification, you send the message that you are invested in the conversation and genuinely care about what the person is saying and not just how they are saying it.
Remember: a person who stutters wants to communicate and be listened to in a sincere, respectful manner just like everyone else. Above all be patient, respectful, and focus on the message, not the stutter.
Do you speak with a stutter or know someone who does? Join the conversation and share your communication tips in our “comments” section!
Until next week, check out our website, http://www.speechassociatesofny.com for more great information and to learn about how we can help you with your speech, communication and swallowing needs.