Talking with a Person Who Stutters: Dos and Don’ts

How to talk to a person who stuttersIt is estimated that approximately 68 million people worldwide speak with a stutter. Last week, in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day, Speech Associates of NY provided a basic overview of stuttering and how speech-language-pathology can help. Today, we present part 2 in our series on stuttering: how to speak with a person who stutters. 

A person who stutters may have difficulty getting out the words they want to say, but clearly they want to be respected and listened to just like every other person. In addition to listening respectfully and patiently, there are some strategies you can use to improve communication when talking with a person who stutters:

DO:

  • Slow down: People often mirror the communication patterns of others. The pressure to speak quickly can often worsen a stutter. Slow your speaking rate to a relaxed, comfortable pace so your conversation partner doesn’t feel the need to rush through at a breakneck pace.
  • Monitor your non-verbal communication: Monitor your facial expressions and body language to make sure you’re not inadvertently communicating discomfort of impatience. Social discomfort and anxiety can sometimes worsen a stutter, and you may be sending negative signals you’re not even aware of.

DON’T:

  • Interrupt: While interrupting any conversation partner is blatantly rude, some people seem to forget this fact when talking to a person who stutters. Interrupting someone is never okay, and this can be incredibly aggravating and emotionally damaging for a person who stutters.
  • Finish Their Sentences: If it seems a person who stutters is having a particularly difficult time getting a word out, many people are tempted to jump in and finish the sentence for them. While they may think they’re helping, finishing another person’s sentence conveys a lack of patience. It is also immensely rude to presume you know what the other person wants to say, and to take their right to speak away.

Do you stutter or know someone who does? What are some things you find useful/annoying when speaking with non-stutterers?

For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!

© 2013, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

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2 Responses to Talking with a Person Who Stutters: Dos and Don’ts

  1. Olukayode Alayande says:

    This is a helpful article. Thank you.

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