Make Room For The Stuttering

The Stare Factor

Posted on: December 7, 2015

It’s that time of year. Restaurants and bars are very busy, with people getting together for the holiday season. People are often very close to you when you are ordering food or drink, just because the places are busier than at other times of the year.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re placing your order at the bar and stuttering extremely well. It’s loud at the bar, so you are speaking a bit more loudly than usual, so stuttering loudly. As you are trying to remain composed, you are aware that the person next to you is staring at you with great interest.

Your face turns red, as you are aware that the person is probably trying to figure out what the hell is happening next to him. You can read his facial expression. You can see a “WTF?” spread across his face. What do you do?

I usually don’t like to draw more attention to myself when stuttering publicly like this, but sometimes “the stare factor” demands some type of response.

Resist the urge to say something smart, like, “do you want to take a picture? It will last longer.” That’s childish. I used to say that when I was younger when I would get angry when someone was obviously staring at me or a friend when we were out. Not necessarily for stuttering, but for just about anything.

As an adult, when this has happened to me, I’ve reacted several ways. I’ve said or done nothing, just dealt with the embarrassment, got my order and moved away. That is not very satisfying, however, and sometimes leads to negative self-talk.

One way I’ve dealt with this is when I turned to the “starer” and very calmly said, “haven’t you ever heard anyone stutter before? It’s OK, I’m OK, thanks for the concern.” That caused the “starer” to get a little embarrassed, which was not my intention but allowed me to be assertive and not left feeling embarrassed myself.

What about you? Has this ever happened? How have you responded? It can be extremely annoying when this happens but we can have the upper hand and leave the situation with our dignity intact if we can figure out a good comeback. Let me know your thoughts.

 

 

 

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1 Response to "The Stare Factor"

As someone who also has facial palsy, I am used to being stared at, reflexively mimicked, and on the receiving end of some very odd comments, BEFORE I start to speak. It doesn’t mean I am always able to ignore it or not let it bother me…quite frankly, it sometimes gets on my nerves. Crowds are worse, but I have learned to focus on what I’m doing and put mental blinders on. It helps. I’m still aware of the stares; I try to keep them in the periphery so I can just get on with whatever it is that I’m trying to do. Nowadays, it’s a very rare occasion that I actually say anything to a starer. I try to stand taller, keep calm, don’t rush, and appear confident. This is my normal. I try to behave accordingly.

Great post!

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