Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘listening to stuttering

Episode 7 of the conversations with men who stutter features Jon Symons, who currently lives in Chaniá, (the island of Crete) Greece.  Jon is originally from The UK and worked in the oil drilling industry for over 30 years. His work in oil took him all over the world.

Jon recently inspired me to write a post called “Be Memorable!” Jon points out that stuttering makes us memorable, and that’s a good thing, especially in business. Any time we can be remembered, we can use that to our advantage.

We talk about the pros and cons of stuttering, and how we as stutterers need to be our best advocates.

Listen is as we chat about lessons learned, being fired, advocacy, differences and being bullied for being English! Yep, poor Jon was bullied not for stuttering, but for being a Brit!

We also discuss how our stuttering, and dealing with it, get easier with age. Take heed, young ones!

This was a great conversation filled with candor, wit and lots of laughter. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from other peoples’ stories.

Please leave comments for us here, or just let Jon know how much you enjoyed his honesty. Especially about who wears the pants in the family!

Music for this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 77  features Lotte Klene, who is 28 years old and hails from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Lotte’s native language is Dutch and throughout our conversation, it is clear that Lotte is more fluent in Dutch than English.

Luckily, we have a translator available to help us! Early in to our conversation, we hear Lotte ask her boyfriend Jeroen to translate for her. Later in the conversation, I ask Jeroen to introduce himself and we chat a bit.

Jeroen Vuijk works for the local government in Rotterdam, and gives us a great perspective of what it’s like to date a woman who stutters.

Lotte talks about what it’s like to stutter in The Netherlands and how its perceived. We talk about therapy, shame, negative reactions, acceptance, and being able to communicate freely and confidently. Lotte shares that her mother also stutters and how stuttering is normal in her family.

Lotte loves to speak and be socially involved. We talk about the Facebook group Stuttering Arena and how helpful it has been for her to connect with other people who stutter. We also discuss Lotte’s involvement with The Netherlands stuttering association and the European League of Stuttering Associations (ELSA.)

Feel free to leave comments for Lotte or Jeroen! They both did a great job, especially Jeroen for his translation. Remember, feedback is a gift.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Several years ago I read a great book on diversity called A Peacock in a Land of Penguins. It’s one of those fables that teach life lessons about being different. The story refers to workplaces and organizations, but its lessons apply to everything in life.

This book made a great impact on me when I first read it. I bought it for work, and applied some of it to a staff  workshop I did on diversity. I remember thinking I was a peacock in a land of “everyone looks and acts the same” penguins.

I hadn’t thought about peacocks and penguins in a long time. Until I found I had used that phrase in a cover letter I wrote for a job I applied to this week. I was talking about me, describing my willingness to take risks and put myself out there, even when my ideas and opinions are contrary to the majority.

In other words, being a Peacock!

Many organizations today are still run by penguins – people who all look, sound, dress and think alike. Penguins say they want creative thinkers, but actually many prefer the status quo.

Those who are different – talented peacocks with unusual flair and style – make penguins uneasy.

I went through my bookcase to see if I still had the book and sure enough, I do. I started to re-read parts of it.

I think people who stutter are peacocks in a land of penguins. We are unique. We sound different and we make people be better listeners.

Peacocks represent diversity. Think about it. In all of your groups, there are penguins. In schools, sports, media, business and government.

Penguins all look alike. They all wear the same uniform to represent their particular penguin group. You know what I mean, right?

And then one of us comes along – a PEACOCK!  Loud, bold, different, unique, smart, funny and full of life. And hugely valuable. Peacocks keep the world from being boring!

I am happy to be a peacock! What about you?

Here are several more workshop summaries from the 100 workshops that were available to choose from and attend last weekend at the National Stuttering Association conference in Ft Worth, Texas. Having people share their take-away points is important.

As promised, Anna shares her reflections on two more workshops she attended. It’s a good thing my volunteer writers attended different workshops, so we could provide this feedback.

Dr. Baker’s Speech – Treatment Innovations and Journey of Hope presented by Robert Baker Ph.D.

Anna writes: “Dr. Baker, a child psychologist, was once a PWS, but recovered using a theory called “British Object Relations”. Now perfectly fluent and confident, he uses play therapy and this theory to help young kids who stutter.  He calls himself “a messenger of hope”. Unfortunately, his explanations of the method and the theory itself were very vague.

I was able to make some sense of his workshop, because of my experience with NLP sessions, and because of my extensive reading on the subject of  the subconscious mind and its problems.  Judging from audience reactions however,  this workshop left many people confused and puzzled, if not annoyed and angry. One PWS in the audience was particularly annoyed by Dr. Baker’s approach and loudly cautioned parents not to “trust just any wacky treatment” only because someone benefited from it. I wasn’t sure about it either.

I am sure glad my parents tried everything from traditional speech therapy to hypnosis and even incantations from a “village witch”. Yet, beside Dr. Baker, I never met a PWS who would say that it was “Object Relation therapy” that helped him or her.”

Going Beyond Stammering with Confidence  presented by Maria McGrath.

Anna writes: “Paddy will pick me up after school”, little Maria said to the other kids. Except that she wanted to say Daddy and couldn’t say “D”. Since Paddy was her cow, the kids laughed mercilessly at this mistake. When she graduated from college, she had difficult time finding jobs. She was a good accountant, but had to decline or leave all jobs that required speaking. Now she is fluent… Well, not quite.

Maria told her story in a clear, strong voice with no signs of stuttering. She is a McGuire graduate, who puts a lot of time and effort into mastering the special technique that allowed her to gain fluency. “I still stutter, and I know I will never be able to speak like other people, but I am working on becoming a better speaker every day” says she in her controlled voice.  To me it was interesting that the first time she went to McGuire program, she relapsed quickly and resumed her stuttering. Her second time she realized that she needs to change internally as well. This time the success was lasting.”

Thanks Anna (see Anna in action here delivering a speech)  for sharing these terrific reflections. It gives others a taste of what they missed.

My friend Alex shares his surprising reflections on the keynote address by Neal Jeffrey.

Alex writes: “The workshop that moved me most was one that I didn’t expect. I was a little skeptical about the Neal Jeffrey workshop, although the NSA all-stars who spoke before him were incredibly inspiring. You can never hear enough stories of people who stutter prevailing and overcoming some of the negatives that we all seem to face.

My skepticism came from reading the bio of Neal in the NSA program, where it mentioned all of his accolades: college quarterback, NFL quarterback, minister, and motivational speaker. Nowhere in the bio did it mention he stutters, so naturally I was unsure how he would be able to relate to us. The first thing he said in his speech was that he is in fact a person who stutters, and right away, he captured my attention.

I do not have a very religious background and although I certainly do respect all those who choose to follow whatever religion they choose, I was blown away by how inspiring this man was. I came away from the session feeling more empowered to be a great person than I ever thought possible.

With the amount of volunteer work I do, the profession I am going into (Speech-language pathology), and my passion for fitness and helping others achieve their fitness goals, one might think that I am already empowered to do great things with my time here on earth. Well, to my surprise, I felt like jumping out of my chair and screaming “AMEN” at certain points throughout his speech. He instilled a greater sense of pride and passion for being a PWS which was amazing for me and I’m sure everyone else in the room.

I really felt as though he made a connection with everyone in the room. Maybe I’m so grateful for this experience because I was not expecting it in the least.  He has certainly made a lasting impact in my life.”

Thanks so much Alex for sharing this honest and insightful reflection.

I want to add one more thought. I attended one of the Open Mic sessions, which are offered throughout the conference. I try to get to at least one every year. I was so inspired by how many first-time attendees were willing to stand-up and share something with the group, whether it be why they were there or just saying their name.

These personal testimonies always move me to tears, and this years was no exception! The session I attended was on the first afternoon, hosted by my friend Bernie Weiner!

Video created, edited and produced by Mike Bauer, NSA 2011 Volunteer of the Year, who is amazing!

Episode 56 features Chloe Barnes, who hails from Northamptonshire, England. Chloe will soon be 20 years old, and is in her second year of University at Brighton, where she is studying to be a primary teacher.

Chloe and I were introduced by Perla Ernest, whom we met in Episode 45. Chloe identifies her stuttering as covert, appearing mostly when she is stressed or under pressure. She did not pursue therapy until two years ago, when she decided to try the McGuire program before heading to university.

Chloe has a wonderful sense of confidence and does not take herself too seriously. She also has a delightful sense of humor and engaging laugh, which you will hear many times throughout our conversation!

Listen in as we discuss meeting other people who stutter for the first time, and how others who stutter can serve as a mirror for us. We also discuss active listening, and how stuttering can make us poor listeners and even a bit self-absorbed.

Chloe talks about the support and coaching of the McGuire program, as well as how she uses voluntary stuttering. We also discuss being proud of our differences and being happy with our unique self. Chloe shares about joining the Drama Society at University and her all time favorite character she portrayed on stage.

The podcast safe music clip “Gently” is credited to DanoSongs. Feel free to leave comments for Chloe or just let her know how inspired you were by her story. Remember, feedback is a gift.

Sometimes you have one of those experiences where everything that happens is inter-connected and you just know that you were meant to be there. I had one of those experiences this past Friday evening. It probably was one of those “you had to be there moments”, but I think you will get how moving this was to me.

My friend Lisa takes a writing class, where the students learn how to sift through the moments of life, find ones with purpose and illustrate them in a way everyone can relate to. Lisa told me that the class is the best thing she has ever done for herself.

She wrote a brilliant piece about stuttering. The movie “The King’s Speech”  inspired her to put voice to her feelings that rocketed to the surface, and she wanted others to learn how different her reality is from Hollywood’s version. Her piece was so good it was published in our local newspaper.

Lisa was then asked to read her piece at a writer’s series held at our Arts Center, in conjunction with our community’s monthly “Troy Night Out”. She was torn about doing it, as her dad was having surgery that same day and she felt she needed to be with him. She also rarely puts her stuttering “out there”.

But it turns out dad told her, “don’t you dare cancel”, so she didn’t and accepted the challenge. She told me about it, and I wanted to be there. I suggested that I could record it, so if she wanted, she could watch it with her dad the next day.

Lisa said something like, “yeah, I probably won’t even watch it myself “, but said I could record if I wanted to. We agreed I would set the video settings to “private” and I would send her the link.

Several writing students were reading that night, so I sat back to listen and enjoy. I was also enjoying the teacher introduce each writer and talk a little about writing and her style. All of a sudden, this woman said something that sounded so familiar to me.

I thought, “where did I hear that before?’ And suddenly I realized I was listening to the author of a book I had just finished reading two weeks ago. How ironic! It was a book about writing, and I remember reading in the preface that this woman has taught a sold-out writing class for 10 years. I had no idea that this was who I would meet later in the evening.

Before it was Lisa’s turn to read her piece, I had double-checked that it was still OK to record. And I went up to the teacher and mentioned I was going to record and asked if it was OK. She said it was fine, as long as Lisa agreed, and she thanked me for asking.

As she was introduced, I quietly readied my Flip recorder and pressed record as Lisa began. She explained why she wrote this essay, and then read her beautiful piece, in her own distinct voice. Within seconds, I was so moved and overcome with joy and pride for my friend. I made no effort at all to wipe away the tears as they openly rolled down my cheeks.

When she finished, the audience applauded and I gently pressed stop on the recorder. Her presence and courageous voice lingered in the room.

Afterwards, I met some of Lisa’s friends, but scooted out pretty quickly. This was her moment. As I headed out, the teacher was down by the door, chatting with some folks. I hesitated, then decided to wait and see if I could speak with her a moment.

I introduced myself as a friend of Lisa’s and reminded her I was the one who had asked permission to record. I shared with her that I realized I had just read her book, and what a coincidence that was. I told her I was a blogger, and she said she was too.

She told me about The Sister Project, which celebrates and highlights unique ventures or stories of women. I told her about the podcast, “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories” and she asked me to email my information, as she would love to write a piece about my work and link it to her blog.

When I got home, I uploaded and saved Lisa’s reading.  I also watched it twice more, and still welled up with tears of pride for my friend. I emailed her the private link, encouraging her to share it with her dad.

The next day, Lisa emailed me, saying she had watched it and was happy with how it came out. She had also shared it with her mom, who also cried, tears of pride. I told her about the coincidence of having read her teacher’s book, and she told me that people had come up to her and congratulated her for putting a voice to her written words.

She also shared that a man who had been sitting right behind me asked her if I was the same person who had done a workshop at the library last month. Lisa told him, yes, that was me. The man told her he stuttered and had done therapy and largely has it under control. But he said he applauded “people like us” (unicorns as Lisa calls us) who stutter openly and let the world see us as we are.

What a night of coincidences! I was meant to be there. It was profoundly meaningful for me to witness my friend take a huge leap out of her comfort zone. And that meaning became crystal clear when she emailed me and asked me to “unlock” the link – that she was going to post it her self on her own personal blog. Sweet! I was honored to be there!

You can see Lisa’s Reading here. Bravo Lisa! I am proud to know you!

I have encountered a lot of discovery lately. Being involved with the women’s podcast and helping women to give voice to their personal stories has been a discovery. I have discovered how much I enjoy doing this, being a part of something very special that is helping other women.

And I have discovered that the women sharing their personal stories are all making an impact on their corners of the world.

I was so lucky to have a local news anchor/reporter take an interest in the issue of women and stuttering. As I wrote in an earlier post, Elaine Houston from News Channel 13 came to my home and interviewed me about stuttering in general and specifically about the issues that women who stutter face. The interview was featured on her weekly TV segment of Today’s Women on Thursday February 10, 2011.

You can watch the video clip of Women Who Stutter here, for those of you not in the viewing area.

The other discovery I have made is that when we openly talk about our stuttering, it often inspires others to open up as well. I quite accidentally met a new friend who stutters before Christmas and it seems she is on her unique path to discovering what it is like to identify as a woman who stutters.

We all have our own ways of doing this. Right now, Lisa is doing this by writing. But she has hinted that a podcast to share her story is on the horizon. That will be wonderful, because she has a voice that needs to be heard.

Check out this wonderful piece Lisa recently wrote, Meeting the Unicorns . . and Myself. Self discovery at its best.

As a person who stutters, I once believed no one would want to listen to me talk for any length of time. I had gotten “the look” too many times. You know the one I mean. When the listener first realizes something is different, and the look of surprise appears.

Their eyebrows arch, eyes widen, and then they quickly glance away. Then, maybe thinking that to be rude, they look back for a second, and quickly break eye contact again. Then they look distracted, looking at their watch, or a clock, or suddenly seem fascinated with the cracks in the ceiling tiles. They look everywhere but at me, the person talking and stuttering. Amazing how this can be read in seconds.

This week, I am pushing outside of my comfort zone in a new way. I have been a member of the Inter-Faith Story Circle of the Tri-City Area for just less than a year. I will facilitate the December circle and talk about my stuttering journey, to people who don’t stutter. Some of them may have never heard a real stutterer stutter.

I have a theme, “Stories of Trust, Leaps of Faith and Courage”.  I plan to open with a reflection and tell three stories. Then, circle members will be invited to share a story of their own, if they wish. It becomes a story swap. We do not process, offer feedback or applaud. We just listen and let the stories in. As a gesture of acknowledgment, members gently rub our hands together after a story is told.

In preparation for the circle, one of the seasoned tellers offered to “listen out my stories”. We met last week in a coffee shop, and over tea, I told my stories and she listened, really listened. She had a notepad with her and shared that she might jot some thoughts for feedback after. I was a little worried about that. But I didn’t need to be. She was a seasoned listener.

As I told, I “watched her listen”. She never took her eyes away from me. She was entirely present. Her facial expressions matched my tone. She took notes without ever looking down at her pad. Her eyes showed emotion, sometimes a smile, or look of surprise, or sadness, or wonder. Mostly presence though.

I stopped “watching her listen”, and just relaxed and told. I did not gaze directly at her, as suddenly I felt so free that someone was listening with intent, that I found more passion in my voice, used more imagery to describe a memory and used my hands to gesture. When I glanced at this woman, she was totally with me, listening, feeling the emotion of my story. As I neared the end, I felt overwhelmed with what I had shared to a near stranger. I choked up and my eyes brimmed over. I looked down for a second and back up. Her eyes were also watery and it was OK.

I had never had someone listen so intently, even as I openly stuttered. We paused and smiled at each other and then she said she wanted to share with me what she had heard. She offered me “appreciations” – told me all the things that had moved her and that helped create images in her mind as she listened.

I had expected to get “feedback” such as things I should change in my stories. Nope. This woman who I did not know very well just listened, appreciated, and told me that.

What an intimate experience to have had. I felt that what we had done had mattered a great deal that evening in the little coffee shop. I felt valued and alive. When we said good night and hugged, my eyes welled up again. We weren’t strangers anymore.

I had a packed four days at the 2010 NSA Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. I attended as many workshops as I could, in addition to the two that I did, along with doing videos of some of the teens. Here, I will give a quick summary of the workshops I attended and the key thought I took away from each.

Brother of Moses and Sister of Mary This workshop focused on gender differences in stuttering, and had workshop participants break into same-sex groups and discuss those things we as men and women who stutter find especially challenging. The groups then joined together for a shared discussion. Men seemed to find dating and chatting with opposite sex who don’t stutter harder. Women focused on issues of confidence. Question was asked does it seem that more women are covert than men. My take home point: men and women who stutter need to talk with each other and recognize that we can teach each other a lot.

Avoidance Reduction Therapy Several of my friends presented their experiences with this type of therapy led by Vivian Sisskin. This type of therapy does not focus on fluency shaping or targets or just treating speech mechanics, but rather helps stutterers accept stuttering so they can stutter easier, free of tension and struggle. Presenters, many of them young people, spoke about how reducing avoidance in their lives has significantly helped improve self-esteem and reduce feared situations. This was one of the best sessions I attended. My take home point: one must absolutely work on fears and feelings before any significant work can be done with speech tools.

I Need Your Love – Is That True? Great workshop discussing how often we feel compelled to seek the love and approval of others in order to determine our self-worth. We often feel that we don’t count unless we are told how we are valued by others and unless others pay attention to us. I often have felt the need to be loved and thought of highly by others – stems all the way back to childhood where I was always fearful of rejection. I grew up thinking I didn’t deserve to be happy! The workshop leader is also a minister, and she did a great job keeping the discussion based on spirituality and not faith-based. Key take home point: we must love and embrace our selves, all of our self, before others can love us.

Career Success: Human Services Networking Lunch Friday was Career Success day. There were a number of employment workshops available, including workplace discrimination, advertising your stutter and interviewing without really interviewing. There was also a networking lunch, where people with similar career goals could ask questions of people already in that field. I facilitated a great discussion on the dilemma of disclosing stuttering during job interviews and whether or not one who stutters should ask for reasonable accommodations. Key take home point: people who stutter are really worried and fearful about stuttering limiting them in the workplace. We need to talk with young people, share our ideas, and encourage them to seek mentors when ever possible.

Teens – Get Real: Real Life Fearful Speaking Situations Great workshop that used personal examples of one presenter’s experiences with sky-diving to illustrate how to overcome fearful moments. I joined a small group of teens who welcomed and included me in the discussion. They talked honestly about what they fear in everyday life as teens who stutter: being called upon in class, reading aloud, doing presentations, responding to rudeness, talking on the phone, the voice command feature on cell phones, and dealing with bullies. These kids were fearless talking about their fears. My take home point: dealing with fear allows us to do the impossible.

I will post another entry about the workshops I did, because this is getting long! NSA conferences are such a great opportunity to learn from each other. Hearing from each other is more inspiring that hearing a keynote from some person that used to stutter years ago and does not live with stuttering every day.

I am glad I had the opportunity to attend these sessions. The only drawback to attending a big conference is it is too hard to choose which workshops to attend. There are usually 5 or 6 scheduled at the same time. I do think I picked the right ones.

Remember back in grade school when you had “show and tell”? You would bring something from home and stand up in front of the classroom and show it off and talk about it. It might have been a favorite new toy or book or even a pet.

Well, I had a chance to do “show and tell” last night at my Toastmasters club meeting. I gave my last speech needed to earn my ACG status. The speech objective was to incorporate technology into my talk. And not just PowerPoint. The speech called for using the internet to both add to the value of the speech and to demonstrate how technology can easily be used in today’s presentations.

The toastmaster manual suggested that the speaker find or create a website that could be used for the speech purpose. The manual also suggested that the speaker send some material about the website in advance to members of the club and ask them to review and comment before the speech.

I was able to do all of that by choosing to share with my club THIS blog. I sent some of the members a link to one of my posts and asked them to read it and leave a comment. I would then show how comments can be moderated during my talk. I also chose to demonstrate  the power of podcasting.

I was taking a risk doing this. It meant that I would be letting non-stutterers into this part of my life more so than usual and that I would be vulnerable. But it was the easiest way for me to demonstrate technology, since I love doing this and could talk easily without using any notes.

It went really well. I had internet access and was able to show the different aspects of this blog – posts, comments, pages, etc. I also showed how audio works and played a clip of one of the podcasts.

Four members left thoughtful comments which we reviewed and discussed briefly during my talk. This demonstrated how technology enables us to interact with readers or listeners.

I was happy with the comments too. It showed that even though my blog and podcast focuses on stuttering, my themes of acceptance and empowerment transcends stuttering. Toastmasters were able to relate to facing challenges and finding ways to rise above them.

I was happy that I chose to do this topic. In a way, I felt proud to be able “show and tell” something that is very important to me, and it felt really good to open up this part of my world to other people who don’t stutter.

Several members were really impressed with the technology I highlighted – namely WordPress, Skype and Audacity. I was teaching too.

Some of the written feedback comments I got included phrases such as: inspiring, fascinating, personal testimonial.

One comment mentioned that I had a lot “ums” and went over the time limit. That frustrated me. I have mentioned before that Toastmasters count the use of filler words such as “um” and “ah” and keep track of time.

As a person who stutters, the use of “um” is often part of my speech pattern. It’s unconscious mostly, as an avoidance tactic to keep from stuttering on more words. I never have figured out how to deal with this effectively in Toastmasters.

Maybe I don’t need to figure everything out. Maybe I just need to enjoy the fact that I was very happy with what I did with this speech.

I am learning a lot more about what stuttering looks like by editing audio.  And I am reminded of two experiences that bothered me in the past, which now make more sense as I actually “look” at stuttering.

Above is a screen shot of my voice recorded and captured as a sound wave in the audio program “Audacity”. Notice how some of the audio looks “dense and thick” and some is just a straight line with no depth to it. Well,  if you play that clip of audio, the part with no depth is where I stutter – its a pause or block.

Looks funny, doesn’t it? I never really understood how sound could look until I started using this type of editing software.

Podcasters (both the veteran ones, and newbies like me) use this free program to edit audio, much like you would if you were editing text. You can highlight, add, delete, copy and paste. It does take a little getting used to, but not as intimidating as I first thought.

When I did a radio program on NPR last month on stuttering, of course there was stuttering. It was expected that I stutter. That was the point of the talk, to raise awareness of stuttering.

Afterward though, the show’s producer asked me if I would record a testimonial for the radio station. They ask all the guests to do it. I just had to say my name, where I worked, and what I listened to and liked best about the station.

Well, after the first time, the producer suggested I try it again. After take 2, she asked what did I think. She said we could “edit out the stutters” if I wanted. I just looked at her. She said it was perfectly fine to leave them in. I said “Of course, I want them left in!”

She asked me to do it yet again, as she said it sounded like I was reading from a script. (I was!) She wanted me to sound natural. Each of the 6 times I recorded that testimony clip, I stuttered on the exact same words and in the exact same way. We didn’t change anything.

This reminds me of something similar about two years ago. I was feeling more confident than ever about speaking and how my voice sounded. I decided to “audition” to be a reader for the visually impaired through a program offered through our public broadcasting television station.

Readers read aloud from newspapers, books or magazines,and then people with visual impairments who subscribe to the service, can hear their favorite newspapers or magazines and keep up with the news. It’s a great program, and completely supported by volunteers.

Well, I “passed” my audition. I read a couple of newspaper articles.  Because of my stutter, which I did not disclose to the woman listening to me, I can often speak with good modulation and pausing, and speak very deliberately, which is perfect for this kind of thing.

But when the audition was over, she gave me some editing orientation. I was going to have to edit my own stuff. She let me experiment in a studio for a while, and let me know that I would need to edit out any “dead air”.

I recorded several clips and produced sound waves like above. Because she was not in the room, I spoke more naturally and had some stuttered moments. I remember they looked exactly like this clip looks. She had shown me how to drag and click, and I could “trim” out the “mistakes”. I did not want to edit out my stuttering nor did I want to trim away “dead air”.

That was me talking. Those sound waves were my voice, my stuttering. What did I do? I erased the sample clips I did that day, cleaned up my work space,signed out of the studio, and left. And never went back.

I had largely forgotten about that until recording the testimonial last month. And now doing audio file editing, where I am actually seeing what my voice “looks like” in the form of a sound wave, I get what radio or TV people who don’t stutter “see”. They just see a sound wave with dead space that needs to be trimmed away. It is totally impersonal to them. There is no connection, the sound wave doesn’t represent a person.

But that stuff up there – those different lines, some dense, some not, that’s ME. That’s my stuttering. That’s what it looks like.

And I will never edit any of that out. EVER. So be it, right?

One thing (of many) I am learning as I undertake this new venture with podcasting is how hard it is to not interrupt a guest as she is speaking. This has never  been much of a problem for me, but I am aware of it as we are talking. I also notice it in the play-back of some episodes while editing.

What is happening may or may not be unique to stutterers having a dialogue. When the guest pauses, I notice I have been jumping in, eager to make a point or ask a question. Sometimes, it is a stuttering moment that I am stepping on.

The guest might be engaged in a hesitation or a block and I do not realize it until they continue to speak, and we then are both speaking at the same time. I wind up saying I am sorry. It feels so awkward!

This is new territory for me. I don’t like being interrupted myself or having someone step on my words, or finish my words for me. In this new venture, conducting an internet radio show, I am now conversing with different women with different stuttering patterns and sometimes I find myself stepping in at the wrong time. Ouch!

So far, no harm has been done.  “No problem”  has been graciously uttered several times to my “I’m sorry”.

I might be a little too self-conscious of this myself, as I strive to find my groove in this new role as podcast host. It makes me wonder if fluent speakers ever have to think of this. Probably not. If you listen to a podcast or radio talk show with fluent speakers, there is a natural ebb and flow to the back and forth dialogue.

There isn’t the same natural flow with stutterers who are conversing. We have involuntary stoppages and prolongations. It seems we have to be more poised to listen if the speaker is finished with a thought, or caught in a stuttering moment. Hey, wouldn’t that be good for fluent speakers to work on too?

I find it incredulous that I am even thinking of this, and making myself more cognizant of my own need to sharpen my active listening skills. Which is a good thing. After all, 90% of communicating is listening.

Has anyone else experienced this? Does it make you feel awkward? Is it just a “stuttering thing”?


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2022.
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