Make Room For The Stuttering

What If Stuttering Was The Norm?

Posted on: June 22, 2009

My good friend posed this question about two weeks ago. I knew I would eventually write about it, just wasn’t sure how I felt about this notion. We were talking about impatience and judgement, two things that people who stutter often face and fear. I know I have.

So, his premise is that if stuttering was the norm, then we would have much more patient listeners. People would slow down and focus, and use active listening skills, to be sure to understand stuttered speech. The stutterers would be revered, looked up to, duly respected. Listeners would hang on every word, for as long as it took for those words to come out.

Far fetched, maybe? But nonetheless intriguing. It makes perfect sense. People who stutter often give great presentations. The stutterer prepares more, speaks slower, allowing for listener process time, and makes effective use of pausing. Some stutterers also keenly understand the dynamics involved in good communication, which of course go way beyond fluency.

People who stutter use eye contact and body language to make a point and connect with the listeners. If you don’t believe it, go and listen to a stutterer giving a speech. Or try giving a speech yourself. You will notice a cadence, and as you  listen, you will pick up the words and content just fine. A stutterer will also repeat things, both intentionally and involuntarily! This is another great way for the listener to be sure they walk away with a clear understanding of what was said! Makes sense, huh! I know I got you at least thinking about it in a different way!

People who don’t stutter may talk way too fast, choose sloppy words and may fail to connect with the audience. Watch for that sometimes too. You’ll notice speakers trying to keep up with a tele-prompter, and forget that they should really be keeping up with the audience, those there for the purpose of listening.

I attended the annual conference about two years ago, for my state’s speech and language association. I had been asked to give a brief overview of my stuttering and how I have been impacted by change. I remember one of the therapists in the audience shared a tale (tall?) about a Zulu tribe in Africa where stuttering is coveted. People in the tribe who stutter are considered to have great wisdom. Other tribal members bemoan the fact that they don’t stutter, and strive to learn how to stutter.

Parents rejoice when children begin stuttering during language development, and breathe a sigh of relief when its not outgrown. The parents know their child will lead a blessed life, known for wisdom and powerful speech. Envy and prestige will follow this child through his life, as he or she is pre-destined to do great things as an adult who stutters.

Imagine that. A world free of judgement and impatience for stuttering. A world where stuttering is considered power and strength.

What if  stuttering was the norm? How would it look to you? How would your out look on life change? Can you imagine this?

Copyright © 2009

2 Responses to "What If Stuttering Was The Norm?"

I love it! I think we should all join that African Tribe! We would be freaking worshiped!

I so agree with you, those of us who stutter and give lectures, speeches, etc, do have some damn good communication skills.

Great Blog my friend!

I would join that tribe too. Can you imagine never having to feel anxiety about stuttering.

Pam on the subject of giving speeches, I forgot to mention that I looked at your vidoes and was in awe. You are an effective speaker and have great delivery. Despite stuttering on some words, I could focus on your speech rather than your stuttering.

My husband and I watched the videos and he was impressed.

I do not do speeches for the fact that I sound frighten and terrified and this comes out in my voice as well. It is really hard to watch a video of me.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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