Make Room For The Stuttering

It Still Surprises Me

Posted on: December 29, 2011

It still surprises me when someone tries to finish my words for me. Since I am so open about stuttering and mostly everyone who knows me knows I stutter, I guess I believe that people should not do that.

But it appears to almost be instinctual on some people’s part. Maybe it really does boil down to people just wanting to be helpful.

I saw my niece the other day, for the first time in a while in person. We stay in touch via Facebook and texting, but that’s not the same of course.

We arranged to meet somewhere on Christmas Eve. I had some items to pass along to her. We only chatted for a few minutes.

In that brief few minutes, I got stuck on a word and my niece filled it in for me, quickly. I hate when people do that, but I didn’t say anything. I hadn’t seen her in a while. Maybe she forgot I stutter! And I didn’t want to embarrass her by saying anything, because it happened within seconds.

But it still surprised me! That she did it, how I felt about it, and that I didn’t say anything, that I just let it pass.

Someone else supplied a word for me earlier this week at work as well. It was very casual, in passing, I don’t even remember who it was. But still it struck me. I was surprised that it happened again.

Are people really trying to help out when they fill in a word for us? Or do they feel so awkward with the stuttered moment that they feel they must say the word in order to keep the conversation flowing forward?

6 Responses to "It Still Surprises Me"

I believe people think they are “helping” when they try and finish our sentences for us. Sometimes I think they do it because they are so uncomfortable when we may be struggling. Most times you can tell by their facial expression why they tried and finish our sentence for us.

Pamela, please expand what you feel when that happens.

I feel frustrated that someone couldn’t wait a second for me to get it out; I feel guilty that a person might be that uncomfortable that they had to supply the word for me; I sometimes feel shame when I get caught in a good block that takes more than a couple of seconds; and sometimes I feel hypocritical because I don’t like it when someone finishes a word or sentence for me, but I don’t tell them I don’t like it.
Funny, how I can have all or some of these thoughts in a matter of milliseconds!

I hate to say this, because I am a person who stutters, all be it very fluently. But, I found my self trying to finish sentences for other people who stutter. I believe the main reason for this is a very selfish reason. In this day and age of getting information asap, we tend to have zero patience if it takes more than a second to get it, especially if you are in a hurry during the holidays. When I do this it is usually when I am having a good stuttering day and I forget my own golden rule that I don’t like when people finish sentences for me. Afterwards, I feel very guilty that I broke my own golden rule and vow to never do it again. Then, I get in a hurry and break it again. It is a continuous battle to not break that rule. So, the next time I come across someone who breaks that rule with me, I try to keep these thoughts in mind. There are situations were people don’t mean to hurt or offend, but they are just trying to cope with the hustle and bustle of the day.

I have found that the best thing to do is to literally talk through the person who is trying to fill in words. Ignore what they are doing and stutter until the word comes out. After a few times, the person gets the clue. In that moment, you are taking your power back. You can speak and they WILL listen!! Good luck!

I think it is a combination of the theories above. From my experiences, I believe it is typically just the listener trying to be helpful, especially if the block is coming across as absent-mindedness rather than a block or stutter. I do think, like Bryan said, that the whole impatient/instant gratification thing plays a part in it. I sometimes find myself finishing sentences for people who don’t stutter, partly due to my own impatience, and partly due to the fact that, as a PWS, I often finish a sentence because I, subconsciously I think, feel it shows the other party I’m engaged in the conversation.

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