Make Room For The Stuttering

Are Stutterers Self-Centered?

Posted on: July 6, 2009

Interesting reflection shared by support group member the other night. Gave people pause to think. Definitely got my attention. After listening to someone’s long share about being stuck and negativity, Brian mentioned that a friend of his told him years ago: “It’s none of your business what other people may be thinking of you. Just worry about yourself.” He went on to say that he thinks that stutterers can be very self-centered.

It can happen, if you get so absorbed in rehearsing what you’re going to say, or planning an escape strategy, or obsessing over what the other person is thinking. Suddenly, there is no US or WE in the conversation. It just becomes about me, the stutterer, and what I am thinking, feeling, worrying, or obsessing about. I admit to having done this, a lot!

It made so much sense, and everybody kind of paused for a minute to process it. It was like a big “Aha” moment, one of those powerful moments that everyone was glad Brian shared.

It made me think of something I have learned, processed and shared at Toastmasters. I gave a speech a few months ago, from the Public Relations manual. The objective was to promote Toastmasters and review some of the selling points. I shared that one of the things I have finally learned about public speaking is this: “It’s not about ME. It’s about the audience, the listener.”

The minute I realized that and shifted my mind-set, I was able to shed a ton of nervousness. When one speaks publicly, you have to be speaking to the audience. You have to be in tune with why they are there, what do they need and how you can deliver and fulfill those needs. And one more secret: the audience wants you to succeed. If you fail as a speaker, they will have a miserable time as well as you having a miserable time. Some people commented that they had never thought of it like that, and liked that idea. It was my take-home for the night.

Well, guess what? Its the SAME THING when you talk one-on-one with anyone. The listener wants you to succeed as much as you want to succeed. They want to hear your opinion and point-of-view, or they wouldn’t be having a conversation with you in the first place.

This makes perfect sense to me. It can relieve us from being self-centered and make the switch to being other-centered. When we are other-centered, there is far less chance that shame will creep in.  This is a good speaking tip for anybody, not just those of us who stutter.

Thanks Brian, for sharing this little gem. Thats the power of the self-help community. We continuously learn from each other. Do you agree? Thoughts?

Copyright © 2009

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4 Responses to "Are Stutterers Self-Centered?"

Eye opening! Thank you Brian and Pamela for sharing this with us! You’re right of course.
I guess it’s human nature to be a little self-centered, and we need reminding that the world does not evolve around ME. And that’s a great thing!
Making speeches does get a little easier when your goal shifts from being “I need to deliver” to “they need to understand and have a good experience”. It’s a good goal to have!
And to answer your question; I don’t think stutterers are any more or less self-centered than the rest of us. We are all human after all.

I’ve discovered that about myself in different areas. There are ways I’m protecting my own heart against some {nondisclosed} things in my past, only it’s tough to be self-giving when the self-giving is itself a way of protecting your own heart.

Does that make sense? 🙂 The focus is still on the self, even if it’s for the good of protecting it. It’s hard to be vulnerable but it’s worth it.

So very true! It is about the audience.

Husband and I find if we’re about to argue, usually it’s because we don’t feel heard. We’re both trying so hard to get our own point across before we forget it, that we don’t give the other person a chance to do the same. Very frustrating when you know exactly what the other person is going to say, so there’s no need for you to hear it. There’s still the need for her/him to say it! We try to give the other time to finish expressing their thought.

Very interesting post! It reminds me of being a student therapist in grad school many years ago. I was so nervous about stuttering with my clients. My supervisors kept telling me that it wasn’t about me. They were right. I was too self absorbed. In general when I stopped making conversations all about me, I was able stay in the moment and enjoy the exchange. It also made me a much better listener. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck at the convention Pam. Hopefully we will meet up again in 2010.

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