Make Room For The Stuttering

Speaking The Truth – Male Episode 6

Posted on: February 23, 2012

Episode 6 of this series of conversations features Zachary Sterkel, who hails from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Zachary is 26 years old and works as a lead baker, with a focus on pastry work.

Zachary and I met on a stuttering forum on-line and chatted on Skype soon after meeting. We quickly scheduled a date for him to share his story here.

Listen in as Zachary very candidly discusses how he once let stuttering limit him, and why it no longer does. He talks about not liking it when people are too nice to him. You have to listen – he describes it best, and I am sure all of us who stutter can relate to this.

We discuss the value of stuttering groups and sharing experiences. Relating with others who stutter has helped Zachary better understand his own stuttering and how his stuttering affects others and even influences their behavior. We also discuss confidence, courage and pink elephants.

I took the name of this episode from a photo that is front and center on Zachary’s Facebook page. These words are shown on the side of a building: “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

Please feel free to leave comments or questions for Zachary (or me!) Or just let Zachary know how impressed you were with his honesty, as I was.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

7 Responses to "Speaking The Truth – Male Episode 6"

great post love listerning to it

Very good, Zach….very honest.


I would like to elucidate on a few of the ideas I was trying to convey in this interview. Just to give everyone a better grasp of where I come from and what I’m trying to do with myself.

To start: how you perceive yourself is how others will perceive you. Learning to love and accept yourself is key to overcoming a lot of the anxiety, shame, and nervousness that accompanies stuttering. This in turn relieves a lot of stereotypes and modified behavior we all experience as stutterers. If you display self-pity, shame, depression, etc, others will take cue from this and will modify their behavior towards you. So always maintain a positive front to hedge healthy social interaction.

I started this process by simply not caring. And I’ve shed a lot of the shame and embarrassment that came along with my stutter. The simple gestures are best for accomplishing this: maintain good eye contact and a confident posture, smile, have a firm handshake, etc. Body language and attitude are center for overcoming these issues. And it supports my previous assertion in more ways than one. When an individual perceives that you are confident and well-knit, they adjust their behavior in a more positive way, allowing for an organic and natural flow within the relationship.

Where I am currently with my issue: it still gives me problems from time to time. I’ve worked the issue down to being highly circumstantial though. I did this by realizing a sort of “internal atmosphere” that came along with the individuals and situations I could speak fluently in and around. If a person can display emotions, moods, perspective, and state of mind, this “atmosphere” can best be described as the root for all of the above. I took this “atmosphere” and began to copy it to situations I was uncomfortable in. And, it works. Its not easy, as I still battle the initial fear and anxiety, but as I persistently apply these “atmospheres” I gain more and more situations I am comfortable in and can speak relatively fluently.

Basically, I am in the process of reprogramming my conceptions of socializing and more so, the act of speaking. And I’ve made some pretty decent progress. You’ll find once you get good at replacing your “atmospheres,” practicing fluency techniques becomes A LOT easier and definitely more productive. I know this will not be applicable to everyone, but I sincerely hope it helps those who can use it. Thanks for taking the time to hear me out!

Very well said. I agree with your point on internal atmosphere. I find it really interesting that you don’t stutter when you nerd out.

Zach I’m so proud of you. You are a very strong person and I love you sweetie.

Thank ya babe 8) Back at ya!

Wonderful work Zachary ! standing ovation for U 🙂 Pam ! you’re superb as always 🙂

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