Make Room For The Stuttering

Spit It Out

Posted on: January 4, 2017

It’s been a long time since someone told me to “spit it out” when I was caught in a stuttered moment. It happened this morning at work with a colleague.

She’s not someone that I am particularly close with, but I have mentioned to her that I stutter. So I was surprised this morning when she mocked the word I stuttered on and then said “spit it out.” She said it laughingly and while we were with someone else so I was taken off guard and just kind of smiled and walked away.

But it really bothered me!

I felt like I should have said something to her right away that I don’t like when someone says that when I’m stuttering but I let the moment go. I was kind of embarrassed because she said it in front of another colleague.

So, I plan to pull her aside and say something when I feel like it’s the right moment. I always am conscious of not embarrassing the “offender” because that’s not my goal. I just want to educate her so it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully, I’ll have the courage to find that right moment.

What would you have done in the moment?

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3 Responses to "Spit It Out"

I wish I had the guts to pull a kleenex off my pochet, spit on it, and say “It doesn’t work” with a smile on my face. More easily said than done. I can totally understand that you were caught off guard in the moment. I think you plan of pulling her aside to tell her you don’t like that is a good one, for two reasons: 1) as you mentioned, to (re-)educate the person about stuttering; and 2) on a more personal note, her reaction was rude; that issue should be addressed too.

Good luck!

I think it’s easy to figure out the ideal response after the fact, but it’s very understandable to just freeze if someone is suddenly inappropriate – it’s unexpected, you’re totally unprepared to deal with it, and there’s a lot of pressure to just go with the flow socially and smooth things over. I’ve definitely had a bunch of moments like that in the past, where in retrospect I really wish I’d said something… but it’s not that easy, is it? I like your plan of going back to talk to her and hope it works out!

One handy thing I did pick up from an advice blog and which I’d really like to be able to use in a similar situation now is the “Wow.” That is, respond to an inappropriate comment with just “Wow.”, followed by awkward silence. It’s an easy one to remember, and it pretty clearly signals that you think the comment is not just inappropriate but really obviously so. That said, that sort of response may be more aggressive/shaming than you’d like – especially since you say you’re careful not to embarrass the offender which, trust me, I am perfectly happy to do. 😉

(apologies if this shows up multiple times, I had a bit of trouble posting this comment)

Maybe I am a bit weird, but when something like that happens I am more likely to say something like, “I’m trying to!” while laughing. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t get too bothered by people trying to make a joke. It’s the malicious or impatient comments that I take umbrage at, not the ones that give an opportunity to crack a joke. I know not everyone agrees with me on this. Just like there are times when I feel a twinge of relief if I am really stuck and the person I am with fills in a word. If it happened ALL the time, I would say something, but the occasional nudge on a frustrating day isn’t a big deal to me. I do what is right for me given the nature of the relationship between me and the other person, the timing, and the intent. I suspect you do the same.

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