Make Room For The Stuttering

The Phone

Posted on: January 21, 2014

Ahhh, the phone. A simple electronic device designed to make our lives easier. But for people who stutter, the phone can be our nemesis.

Talking on the phone can be a struggle, even a nightmare for those who stutter. The time pressure and being unable to see our listener often adds to our anxiety, which in turn can increase our stuttering.

Over the years, I’ve had my hiccups with the phone. For a long stretch, I can remember never answering the phone. I would always let the call go to voice mail, and I would return the call when I was ready. For some reason, I was (and still am) more comfortable when I initiate the call.

I’ve had my times when I re-record a message I have to leave on someone’s voice mail if I think there was a stuttered word in my message. And I’ve re-recorded my own personal greeting on my voice mail numerous times until I got it “perfect.”

These days, on my voice mail, I allow a repetition so that I’ve left a cue to callers that I stutter.

At work, I often have to pitch in and answer the main phone lines in the office. For the most part, I am alright with it. I always say the same greeting and always stutter the same way when I say, “May I he-he-help you?” Usually, I’m fine with that. Sometimes I find myself wincing, wishing I could say it without stuttering.

I covered the phones for a bit on Friday. When I answered in my usual way, the caller immediately said “Hi Pam.” I winced. I felt like she recognized my stuttering and therefore knew right away it was me.

Now, maybe that wasn’t true at all. Maybe she just recognized my voice (although I don’t think so, as I don’t answer the phones often enough to have my voice recognized.) Whatever was the case, I felt uncomfortable and a little embarrassed. Which bothers me, because I shouldn’t be feeling embarrassment anymore because of my stuttering. But I do.

What about you? Is the phone (still) difficult for you? Or have you found a way to just take it in stride?

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3 Responses to "The Phone"

The phone was my biggest problem I over came it by making lots of phone calls simple ones at first and then when I gained confidence longer ones to stores inquiring about items of interest.
If I had a feared word or a word I would stumble on I would use that word as often as I could example:- Rrrr was my feared sound. I would phone up a motel and ask for Robert Rodgers from Robertstown, the clerk would check if that person had booked in and come back and say no of that name has booked in I would thank him for his time and say I thought that Robert Rodgers from Robertstown was booked into your motel.
This meant I said my feared sound 6 times. It may not of come out perfectly the first time but if I kept persisting on the 10th it was starting to sound OK.
Points to remember is take your time don’t let the other person rush you.
Don’t answer the phone when it rings immediately wait about 2 to 3 rings compose yourself. Think what your going to say. If the person on the other end starts to talk over you keep talking they will soon stop and ask you to repeat it.
the big one which works all the time tell the person that you have a speech problem.
When at home or at work and the phone rings don’t look at it, answer it, be the first one to the phone let it ring 2 to 3 times look at a point and stay looking at that point, if your eyes start to wander you will lose concentration, my saying is wandering eyes means a wandering mind.

The phone is still not my favorite device unless I’m talking to a good friend and/or family member. Some times/days are better and/or easier then other. Lately, I’ve done a lot of advertising when using the phone at work when talking with someone for the first time. In the beginning of the conversation I will say something like, “Before we begin I want to let you know that I stutter (or am a person who stutters) so if you hear a pause and/or silence it is most likely not our connection”. The responses I get are usually positive and along the lines of: “Ok, thanks for letting me know”. It identifies the elephant in the room and allows me to not feel under as much pressure. You say you felt uncomfortable that the woman might have recognized you by your stuttering. Wouldn’t this be similar to being recognized by an accent or other identifiable vocal quality?

Good point, of course, Steve. It probably wouldn’t bother me at all if I was recognized for an accent. But for some reason, I don’t like to be known at my school as “the one that stutters.” And it seemed that’s how she knew it was me, because I had stuttered like I always do when I say the word “help” over the phone.
I shouldn’t let it bother me and I act like it doesn’t, but deep down, it still does sometimes.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2014.
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