Posted December 2, 2011on:
I really don’t want to be identified as the lady who stutters at work. But I know darn right well that is how some people know me and remember me.
I stutter during one-on-one conversations, I stutter on the phone and I am known to stutter when making small or large group presentations. Contrary to what I used to think, most people in my world know I stutter.
There’s certainly worse things to be known for, right?
I could be known as the one everyone hates dealing with because she never follows through.
Or I could be the one that everyone knows is always late.
Or I could be known as the one that you can’t tell anything to because she can’t be trusted.
On one of the stuttering forums I visit, someone was talking about how it’s too bad some people reach “old age” and never come to terms with the fact that they stutter.
He shared an observation that he had when he had a group of people over to his home recently. People were gathered around, talking, laughing, chiming in when they had something to contribute. He also noted that there were several different conversations actually going on at the same time.
He found it interesting to watch how people jockeyed for the right moment to jump in and add something to a conversation when they had something they wanted to contribute. Sometimes people talked over one another and interrupted.
He also mentioned that he didn’t contribute much because he really didn’t have much to say, and was rather busy keeping people “watered and fed.”
But when he did have something to say, the conversations stopped and everybody listened. Because this guy insists that he not be interrupted when he speaks. Sometimes he struggles to get his words out, so when he does want to contribute, everybody listens.
I likened this to being memorable. People remember people who stand out and say something compelling and valuable, even when stuttering while sharing their point.
A friend and I talked about our stuttering last night. He was venting how frustrating it feels to him to have conversations at work with colleagues or people in authority. He feels like no one knows who he is.
I told him what I thought about that! My take is that he feels that way because he rarely takes opportunities to initiate conversation and “make people want to hear more from him.”
When I said this, he looked at me with this “raised eyebrow look” of his that means, “What the hell are you talking about?”
I said to him, “You have to be memorable. You stutter, so be so compelling in what you say while stuttering, that people will definitely remember you.” I had his attention. I could see his wheels churning.
There’s worse things, right?