Make Room For The Stuttering

Getting A Response

Posted on: August 13, 2010

I received a response from the Director of Rooms at the hotel I stayed at recently. I wrote that hotel employees had reacted to both myself and another person’s stuttering in a negative manner. This is what the director emailed to me.

I have to start by apologizing for your negative experiences while staying with us.  I have to assure you that this behavior is not conducive to our level of service.

And I personally do not tolerate any disrespect to our guests.  My four-year-old son goes to speech therapy because he struggles to communicate his thoughts into words, so I have a personal respect for you and your group.  I know through my son he gets very frustrated when he struggles with verbal communication.

Moving forward we will learn from these experiences and appropriately train our employees to afford the same respect to all of our guests.

On the flip side of your experiences, we have received lots of positive comments from other participants here attending the same meeting.  So I hope that your experience was isolated and not everyone was treated with disrespect.

Thank you for your feedback and I promise to work with our staff to correct their level of service.

I was happy and satisfied to get this feedback. I took the time to let the hotel know I had an unacceptable experience with staff, and this guy took the time to write back and share something of a personal nature.

In the past, I would certainly get upset when stuff like this happens, but I usually just let it pass and not do anything about it.

Now I usually feel strong enough to speak up and let someone know when they have reacted unacceptably. Who knows? This might just make a difference.

4 Responses to "Getting A Response"

I like the fact you let him know you weren’t satisfied. He responded in a respectful manner and you educated one more person about stuttering. I am glad you did this.

Me too !

Good to know that the Hotel Manager responded in such a positive way.

I could quote numerous examples of similar behaviour by service staff here in the UK – two spring to mind at social events at which I was present organised by the BRITISH STAMMERING ASSOCIATION.

To put these stories in context, many jobs in the catering and hotel trades in the UK are occupied by immigrants, often with a poor grasp of the English language. Our membership of the European Union means that nationals of any other EU nation are allowed free access to the British labour market, and vice versa.

Some years ago I organised a social event at an ex – Military Personnel Club of which I am a member, and we stressed to the staff that the guests at the event would be stammerers. Despite this, there were a number of instances of rudeness towards our people by bar staff and others who were quite unable to comprehend that the people they were serving had difficulty communicating. I personally saw one bar tender smirk at one customer, and others simply refused to serve us.

When I remonstrated with the Duty Manager, he was apologetic, but said there was little he could do. He did not have enough staff to cater for functions, and used an Agency – put quite simply, a bus pulled up outside the Club on the morning of the event, and the requested number of casual staff arrived. As the Manager put it to me, he had no idea what nationality they were, what languages they spoke, nor what experience they had. To try to explain to them that they would be dealing with customers with communication difficulties would have been impractical.

Do you get similar problems in the United States ? Regards, COLIN

Unfiltered idea: Are there enough stammers who are licensed to serve (or carry) alcohol that they could be hired? I can see all sorts of stumbling blocks to that idea, such as they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the event themselves, the hall might not be able hire them directly, and it might be discrimination against non-stuttering servers. On the other hand, it might be worth working through the challenges. They would understand what the customers are going through and also be a good example of stammerers working in jobs that require working with the public.

A venue that hosts similar-sized functions regularly (like a hotel or conference centre) might have a regular staff rather than rely on an agency.

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