Stuttering And Assertiveness
Posted October 3, 2013on:
A reader asked me if could write about assertiveness and offer some tips about how to be assertive while stuttering. Good topic, as we all might need gentle reminders about what being assertive really is.
Being assertive involves advocating for yourself in a way that is positive, proactive and respectful. It also means being clear, direct and honest.
It’s not always easy to be assertive. We may have been raised with stereotypical beliefs that men need to be aggressive and that women need to take care of others first. Or we might fear creating conflict, being criticized or rejected. Self esteem has a lot to do with how assertive we are.
I’ve had experience with not always “practicing what I preach.” I’ve encouraged individuals I’ve worked with for years to stand up and speak up for themselves. But it’s not easy. It’s a skill that takes practice. I still need to practice it.
It may be easier to scream at someone or swallow our feelings and not say anything, but being assertive is better because it respects you and others. It also helps us to stay calm and relaxed in stressful situations.
Stuttering openly can be stressful. We become vulnerable. Being comfortable and assertive and letting your needs be known can relieve stress.
Here are some tips for stuttering assertively:
Use “I” statements. Practice using “I” statements with someone you feel comfortable with. Saying “I stutter. I am OK with it and hope you are too” puts you comfortably in control of the communication encounter and gives your listener a cue as to how to react.
Maintain good eye contact. Practice maintaining eye contact while doing some voluntary stuttering. Maintaining eye contact is a sign of self-confidence.
Be brave enough to respond even when someone reacts negatively to your stuttering. If someone laughs or makes fun of your stuttering, consider saying something like, “hey, I stutter, and I really don’t like it when someone laughs at me. It hurts my feelings.” Consider practicing saying that with someone you trust.
Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. When your mind says you can’t do something because you stutter, turn that around into an opportunity for a challenge.
Being assertive means letting your voice be heard and seizing speaking opportunities.
It also means being kind to yourself – if an attempt at being assertive doesn’t work, don’t swallow your feelings and revert to silence. Try again the very next time the opportunity presents itself.