Posts Tagged ‘workplace stuttering’
I have been experiencing a lot of stress and tension at work recently. My team is facing challenges and opportunities as we look to grow and expand our programs. It feels like we are experiencing growing pains.
I have reached out to one or two people for counsel and advice as I try to work my way through a tough time. The problem seems to be just basic communication.
Isn’t it funny that both people who stutter and those who don’t all grapple with communication stuff? It really is at the heart of everything that we do.
One of the friends I talked with wondered if I am perhaps feeling anxious because of my stuttering.
It’s not that at all. Yes, stress and tension exacerbates my stuttering but that is not causing the tough situation (I don’t think!)
Maybe it’s just plain not a good fit. I am definitely exploring that as well, with as much honesty as I can.
I think I am doing a pretty good job of staying focused (maybe too much) on the issues at hand at work and not on my stuttering. I have noticed more stuttering when I feel most stressed, but I don’t think it’s impacting my work in any way.
Has anybody had any similar situations? Rough patches at work? Do you think your stuttering has anything to do with it?
Episode 99 features Pamela Woebkenberg, who hails from Cincinati, Ohio. Pam works as an office manager in a retail showroom, a communication heavy job.
Pam and I met at the National Stuttering Association (NSA) annual conference in Cleveland in 2010. Pam is actively involved with her local chapter of the NSA and is helping to launch a new, second chapter in her area.
Listen in as we discuss workplace stuttering, advertising and thoughts on having someone else advertise our stuttering. Pam also discusses her early speech therapy experiences, the impact of being involved in stuttering self-help and family.
The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to DanoSongs. Feel free to leave comments or questions for either one of us. Remember, feedback is a gift.
At the FRIENDS conference this past July, one of the phrases I heard that really stuck with me was “listening deeply.” People were asked what they hoped to get out of the conference, and someone wrote they hoped they would learn to listen more deeply.
I have heard many people who stutter say they think they are better listeners in general because they are more aware of the importance of listening and because they also talk less.
What do you think of that?
Last night, I had to give a high stakes presentation to our school board. It was important that I conveyed my message powerfully in a short amount of time. When we were preparing, my partner and I had considered doing a PowerPoint presentation or just talking without “relying” on visual aids.
We chose to NOT use a PowerPoint and to just speak, and have handouts available for further reference for board members.
The group that spoke before us had a PowerPoint presentation, and I worried that maybe we had made the wrong decision to not use a visual.
As I watched and listened to the first speakers, I also paid attention to the audience. They were not paying close attention. They were looking through handouts and flipping pages as the speakers spoke. I thought they were not listening deeply, as they were perhaps distracted by the PowerPoint presentation.
When I got up to speak, despite being very nervous, I just spoke. As I made eye contact with listeners, I noticed they were all focused on me, some made direct eye contact and they were listening. I could tell! I could see facial expressions, body language and head nods that told me they were listening.
I got the impression that they were listening deeply, as they were invited to do so by not being distracted with anything else. I think they heard my message loud and clear.
By the way, I stuttered a few times and did not feel in any way that it detracted from my message.
We all should aim to listen deeply. We might be surprised by how much we actually hear.
Episode 17 of the conversations with men who stutter features Robert Lucas, who hails from a small town in South Australia.
Robert worked for 26 years in the gas pipe lines industry. He had worked his way up to an Inspector, before retirement.
Robert shared how participating in engineering meetings was always tough for him. He dreaded introductions, and often manipulated others to attend and speak for him. He spent lots of time thinking about how he might manipulate others, including family. Manipulation is an interesting way to look at avoidance.
We also enjoy quite a few laughs and talk about the importance of humor, expanding boundaries, advertising and reading other people’s minds.
It was a delight chatting with Robert. He has a terrific attitude and a wicked sense of humor. Please leave comments or questions. Feedback is a gift.
The music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
Make your plans now to check into this years’ International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) on-line conference that starts on October 1 and runs through ISAD, October 22,2012.
This is always one of the marquee conferences of the year, because of its unique format. Presenters submit papers or presentations that are available to be read and commented on for three weeks. There are live threaded discussions where you can post a comment or question to an author, where you will get an answer.
There is also a section called “The Prof Is In” where a team of noted professionals and researchers in the field of communication disorders are available for three weeks to answer questions. This is a great way for parents to ask questions from some of the top stuttering specialists in the country, as well as a great way for SLP students to learn.
Many papers are written by consumers as well, meaning that you get a smorgasbord of different perspectives on all different issues of stuttering.
You can find all of this years action, as well as all of the past year’s conferences in archives at The Stuttering Home Page. Do check it out, participate and read a variety of different papers.
Thanks to Judy Kuster for all the work she does to coordinate these annual conferences of the international stuttering community.
I was asked this week during a meeting to introduce myself and tell my “story” to a new team I will be working with. The Director wanted to know our work and personal backgrounds, and essentially what makes us tick and our values.
I chose to include some discussion about my stuttering journey, as how I handle stuttering impacts just about everything I do.
Reflecting back on what I said in that discussion and some questions asked, here is my list of how you should care for and feed your stuttering.
1. If you stutter, stutter. Don’t just say you stutter and then not stutter – you don’t look credible then.
2. When talking about it, relax, maintain eye contact and smile. It really does engage listeners.
3. If someone asks a question, answer it honestly. I was asked, “I don’t know much about stuttering, can you tell me a little more about it?” Do that!
4. Voluntary stutter periodically, especially if you are having a really fluent day. Sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s part of caring for your stutter.
5. Be sure to feed your stuttering – don’t be afraid of blocks or signs of tension. If you have disclosed, it will be expected. Your stuttering will eat that up and relax.
6. Acknowledge feelings you have about stuttering. Know that shame and fear of judgement still creep in from time to time. That’s why it’s so important to care for your stuttering by being good to it and not hiding it.
7. Don’t spend precious time and energy trying not to stutter – it rarely works. It’s more efficient to just stutter and move forward.
8. Thank others who take an interest and ask questions.
9. Thank your stuttering when it has a particularly good day. Say, “Thank you stuttering!”
10. Share these care and feeding tips with others – people who stutter or not. It gives your stuttering more confidence.
Episode 14 of the series of conversations with men who stutter features Grant Meredith, who hails from Victoria, Australia.
Grant works at the University of Ballarat, as a Lecturer in multimedia and gaming. He is also coordinator for introduction and welfare for first-year students.
Grant takes a very matter of fact approach to his stuttering, and will tell his students upfront that he stutters, and then never mentions it again. His expectation that stuttering is not an impediment cues others to follow his lead.
We have a great discussion about public speaking, and how stuttering can make us more lively, interesting speakers. And Grant makes a great analogy about how understanding stuttering is akin to learning a foreign language.
Listen in as we also discuss the expected reactions of listeners, positive attitude and mindset, perception, and being self aware.
This was a great conversation between two lively speakers and great communicators! Feel free to leave feedback for either of us.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is “The Living Physicist” by DanoSongs.
Episode 86 features Emily Gurdian, who hails from New Orleans, LA. Emily is 23 years old and a teacher. She is presently in graduate school at the University of Portland (Oregon) where she is pursuing Educational Leadership.
Listen in as we discuss a range of topics. We talk about teasing, mocking and dumb comments. We discuss being stunned into silence sometimes by hurtful comments about stuttering, and how we deal with it.
Emily also shares about what it is like to be a substitute teacher and constantly having to adapt to new kids.
Emily plans to focus her Master’s research on how stuttering affects a child’s entire academic performance. She chose this topic because it met her professor’s criteria of being interesting and important. And because communication affects every aspect of a child’s learning experience.
Be sure to listen in to this great conversation with a young teacher who is insightful and confident. Feel free to leave feedback for either of us, or let Emily know what a great job she did.
Podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
Episode 8 of the conversations with men who stutter features Michael Callicutt, who hails from central North Carolina. He has been in St Louis, Missouri, his wife’s hometown, since last Fall. Micheal has been teaching band for seven years to students in grades 6 through high school.
Music has always been important to Micheal. He didn’t flourish academically in school until he joined band at age 10, when “all of a sudden, everything made sense.” He knew then that music was his gift.
In college, Micheal actually started of with pre-dentistry classes, thinking he would not be able to support a family on a teaching salary. But he quickly learned that was not for him, and allowed himself to follow his music calling.
We discuss how stuttering impacted his college studies – he had a lot of self doubt and fears, worrying about completing the speaking aspects and teaching internships.
We also talk about how Michael almost never stutters in front of his students, interesting reactions from listeners, and true expressions of self.
Feel free to leave feedback or ask questions in the comment section of this blog. Let Micheal know what a great job he did!
Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
I was in an important meeting earlier in the week, with two of my colleagues and two guests from another organization. I had reached out to the other agency, inviting them to meet with us so we could explore a partnership. I had done the initial outreach by phone.
This was an important meeting. Everybody in the room had a vested interest in brainstorming and getting both opportunities and challenges onto the table. A partnership with this agency means a “win-win” for both organizations, and ultimately the individuals we serve.
Since I had convened the meeting, I led off, introducing people and getting right to the point. Early in, I blocked and then had some repetitions. The woman guest snickered and had a bemused expression. I didn’t say anything, but continued talking and had another minor block. The woman laughed again and showed “the look”, you know the one I mean.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my female colleague catch my eye and question me with just her eyes. She was silently asking, “well, how are you going to handle this?”
I am one of those persons who doesn’t want to make my stuttering an issue in professional environments. At this meeting, we were not convened to talk about stuttering. But I had to say something. This woman obviously did not know how to react when encountering someone who stutters.
It also bothered me, a LOT. I was surprised that a manager in a social services agency would be so disrespectful, even if that was not her intent.
So I very quickly said, “Pardon me, you should know I stutter, and I’m OK with it. I hope you can be too.” The woman then blushed, looked down, and said “I’m sorry.”
I momentarily felt guilty. I did not mean to embarrass her or make her feel bad. But she had unknowingly (I assume) made me feel bad and I needed to get the “pink elephant” out in the open right away and then move on. Which I did.
I continued talking, and stuttering, and then we all participated in a great dialogue and had a productive meeting. My stuttering was a non-issue for the rest of the meeting.
Afterwards, I asked my colleague what she thought of the way I had handled it. We have only worked together for 3 months. She said, “You had to say something. Once you did, it became a non-issue, and we moved forward. You did the right thing.”
She then said, “You must get that a lot, huh?”
I knew what she meant and wished it wasn’t true, but she is right. Yes, I get those looks and snickers a lot from people who don’t know I stutter before they learn that I actually do.
People seem surprised. Like they don’t expect a person in a position that requires so much communication to happen to stutter.
When this happens, I feel it is my responsibility to educate the listeners, so we can move forward.
Even though I am very accepting of my stuttering, I will admit that negative reactions like this still sting. I still feel hurt when it happens, even when I know it was not intentional
What do you think? Do you “get this” a lot? How would you have responded? Do you think I did the right thing?
This was very interesting to me. In a very succinct way, this quick comment by a friend sums up the covert stuttering experience for some people.
A friend asked how my new job was going. I started a new position in mid November, something that is quite different for me and out of my area of expertise. Part of my responsibilities include providing resources and support to 15 adult education teachers.
In an email, my friend commented, “Wow Pam, you are amazing. You have to manage 15 staff and they let you stutter the way that you do. That is very inspirational.”
To me, this spoke volumes about how we hide our true selves, and how we feel about exposing our differences at work and in professional environments.
What do you think?
Episode 78 features Fianna Peppers, 27 years old, who hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Fianna currently works in a Bank of America call center, something that she never thought she would be able to do because of her stuttering!
Fianna describes herself as a master of word substitution. She has been doing that for over 25 years. She blocks quite a bit as well.
We talk about the huge role that shame plays in the lives of people that stutter. Fianna shares that as a kid, she was made fun of a lot. She relates a recent incident where a co-worker made fun of and mimicked her stuttering.
Fianna and I met in the on-line Facebook stuttering group Stuttering Arena, which boasts over 900 members. She brainstorms frequently with group members and has talked with a few over the phone.
We also discuss acceptance, therapy experiences and feelings. At one point, Fianna gets emotionally choked up as she gets really honest about much shame has gripped her. This is a jam-packed conversation that covers a lot of ground and a range of emotions.
We also discuss how tiring and draining it is to stutter – it is physically and emotionally exhausting to constantly switch words!
Kudos to Fianna for sharing and being so honest. Please feel free to leave comments or just let Fianna know how well she did. Remember, feedback is a gift!
Credit for the music used in today’s episode goes to ccMixter.
An interesting article appears in today’s Business Management Daily about a worker who stutters who is hoping to get a promotion at her job.
She is told by her supervisor that the new manager would be brought in from another department.
When the worker asks why, she is told, ”we know you work well with the other typists. They know about your stutering problem. But this is for a manager position. What about the communication skills?”
She is further told, “We simply wouldn’t be doing you a favor by promoting you into a job you couldn’t handle.”
Couldn’t handle? I stutter and speak publicly in my job every day! To managers, communications specialists, teachers, administrators.
Episode 76 features Andrea Montes, who hails from Seattle, Washington. Andrea works in Redmond as a massage therapist. She always loved getting massages when she was younger, and became good at giving massages because she knew what she liked.
Andrea decided to become a massage therapist, both because of her love for it and because she thought she wouldn’t have to talk much. Not surprisingly, she learned otherwise!
Andrea only “came out” about her stuttering 7 or 8 months ago. She was covert, and worked hard at hiding stuttering at work, for fear of being judged or fired. She was terrified of being found out as a stutterer.
She talks about how it took so much energy to hide, that when she left work and returned to her safety zone, she was almost inaudible. Her blocks were severe after being near perfectly fluent at work.
Listen in as we also talk about quality of life, getting rid of the “fluency dream”, self esteem and anxiety. Andrea also talks about her experience with the McGuire Program, and how it helped her “come out of hiding.”
Andrea shares that she is still dealing with the shame of stuttering, which prompts a segment about how we manage shame and other people’s reactions. Andrea gets really honest about her fear of her “big blocks.”
I loved getting to know Andrea, and loved her gut honesty. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, or just let Andrea know how great she did in sharing her story.
Credit for the music used in this episode goes to ccMixter.
Episode 74 features Francine Draper, who hails from Riverside, California. Francine is currently a stay-at-home wife and mom, after a 15-year career in home sales.
Francine and I are both members of the forum/group Stuttering Chat, the largest internet group for people who stutter.
Francine actively contributed to a discussion about using medication for stuttering, a topic that drew a lot of interest.
Listen in as we discuss Francine’s early experiences with stuttering and traditional speech therapy, which didn’t really help her. Francine is gut honest as she discusses the stress she felt in her “in-home sales” job, and the desire to try something else to help her manage her stuttering.
Francine has been taking the medication Saphris for about a year. Saphris is an anti-psychotic drug used to treat bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia in adults.
She talks about the side effects she had at the beginning, working with her doctor to adjust dosing, and whether or not she really wants to take medication for the rest of her life.
I am most grateful that Francine was so open and honest about a very personal decision and shared her experiences with us.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
Feel free to leave comments or questions. Feedback is a gift.