Make Room For The Stuttering

“You’re Doing Really Well”

Posted on: July 25, 2011

Have you ever heard that from someone you have just disclosed to that you stutter? I have – several times over the last month or so. When someone says that, it seems like they are surprised that my stuttering does not sound like the stereotypical image they may have in their head.

A friend and I went to an event sponsored by a local radio station. I had the chance to meet one of the regular afternoon radio personalities. My friend mentioned to him that we both stutter. This guy immediately said, “You’re doing really well”. It seemed almost a compliment – like maybe it was acknowledgement that I was having a pretty good speech day.

Last week at a music performance, during intermission, I was waiting in line for the restroom. An older gentleman and I were chatting. I mentioned I had recently been to a jazz club in Texas. He asked me why I had been in Texas. I told him for a conference. He asked what type of conference. I told him a stuttering conference. He then proceeded to tell me that his daughter is a SLP and also works with people that stutter. He also remarked that I “do very well” when speaking.

One day last week I was on the phone and had a minor block with initiating small talk. I mentioned that I stutter, to ease my anxiety about the block, and immediately the person said, “well, you’re doing just fine. I barely notice it.”

Does this happen to you? I wonder if there is any special reason people use this phrase. Maybe it’s the only way they know to acknowledge stuttering, maybe it makes them feel better that they have used a positive phrase.

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6 Responses to "“You’re Doing Really Well”"

I get that a lot too. I suspect it’s because most people don’t know what to say next after you disclose. Something like stuttering just isn’t in most people’s normal frame of reference so I’m not too surprised that they get awkward when they run into it. I started adding a sentance after “I stutter” to the effect of it’s not a big deal it just takes me a few extra seconds. If you give them a hint about how to react they’ll usually take it. It seems similar to how sometimes I have to show someone how to listen by being a good listener before they can do it back.

Great post Pam, keep up the good work!

As a non-stutterer, I’d go with that being the only thing we can think to say. We want to reassure and compliment and encourage. Sometimes we’re afraid that you might start stuttering (possibly because of something we do) and then we’ll both be embarrassed.

Yes, we’re inept, badly informed, and easily embarrassed, but our hearts are in the right place.

That’s the most important thing. =] uhh… the heart in the right place.

Pam, I had a funny experience yesterday. I was giving a speech in my Toastmasters club about the NSA conference and I several times repeated “National Stuttering conference”. But I was fluent during this speech. My evaluator was a guest to the club. He stood up evaluating my spech and started talking about what a great speech I did about….a storytelling conference. After the meeting I approached him and clarified what kind of conference it was and asked was it my accent that made him think it was all about storytelling. I even started stuttering a bit, because I really wasn’t sure how to handle this conversation. He said that the word stuttering was just well out of his mind. He didn’t detect any stuttering, he didn’t expect any and when he heard the word stuttering, his mind translated it into something more familiar – storytelling. Then we talked some more and his wife said with surprise – oh, but you didn’t stuter when you spoke and now you also doing really well. She sounded genuinly surprised and I think it is because of that image of a stutterer that some movies (Like fish called wanda) created. I simply didn’t fit into that stereotype. So, Pam, it is great that you and others go open about stuttering – we help to erase the stereotipic image and show them that you can be a person who stutter and a great communicator and speaker as well.
Anna

Thanks Anna! I can understand how a listener can be confused when we talk about stuttering and don’t stutter! On those occassions that I feel I am going to be pretty fluent (do you ever get those feelings?), I might throw a little voluntary stuttering in, which almost always turns into a real stuttering moment.
If we are going to talk about stuttering, we need to stutter.

Last night, I challenged myself big time and did an Open Mic here in Albany. It was a general artist night, so most people were singing and playing muscial instruments. I read/performed two of my original poems. I was the only one who did that. I stuttered – no doubt about it.

Feedback was good – one person told me it was beautiful as I walked by, another said it had been a long time since he had heard good poetry, one came up to me and congratulated me, and one came up and said that it must have taken a huge amount of courage and stamina to do it.

I just wanted to push outside (WAY outside) my comfort zone and do something I had been wanting to do. A friend had told me it was a pretty supportive group, and it was. I was glad I did it.

Yes, I get that every time I disclose/advertise. Ugh. I really think people just don’t know what to say. I know it’s not what we want to hear, but I really think they mean well. I think they just want to be supportive. They also probably only know stuttering as being severe (like stuttering characters in movies), and when someone more “mild” like you or I tell them we stutter, they are comparing it to what they know. And they’re right- it’s not comparatively as severe. I tell them, “well, it’s not about that..” and educate them- just quickly- that it’s more of not letting it hold me back and working through words with less tension, and then move on. I think we (PWS) look into it way more than a non-stutterer does. I treat it like when people laugh in my face.. they just don’t know what to do and are keeping it light I guess. And I just educate them quickly and move on. Most people change their attitude once they understand.

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