Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘workplace stuttering

I came across a post in one of the stuttering forums written by a young man who shared that his assistant manager at work has been blatantly mocking his stuttering. This has occurred in front of other co-workers and sometimes in front of customers as well.

The young man wrote that he’s talked to the owner in an attempt to get some assistance. He feels the owner can only do so much as the assistant manager doesn’t do the mocking in front of the owner.

He is considering contacting someone at the corporate level to ask for help in getting the harassment to stop. He worries that may be “too much” and asks if there is anything else that could be done.

I feel for this person. It is utterly disrespectful to be mocked at work by a manager. I remember when this happened to me, many years ago, before I was fired from my job because of stuttering. My director would laugh, slap his face and roll his eyes when I stuttered during meetings. He had no problem doing this in front of others. I felt embarrassed and ashamed and helpless to stop him, as he, after all, was a director and an authority figure. He was also a big guy and I honestly always felt intimidated by him.

I didn’t do anything when he harassed me. I just sucked it up and wound up feeling like crap and let negative self-talk take up space in my head. When I left meetings after such ridicule and disrespect, I would go to a bathroom and cry and then compose myself.

Now, years later, after finding support and empowerment through support organizations such as the National Stuttering Association, I have learned to advocate and stand up for myself. I would feel OK to let an offender know that it is unacceptable workplace behavior and I would attempt to educate about stuttering. I would also not hesitate to involve Human Resource staff so that they too could take steps to eliminate a hostile work environment.

Not everyone is in that place to stand up and confront harassment. You really have to have reached a place of acceptance and self-actualization in your journey in order to advocate for yourself.

So, what would you do? How would you handle this if it was you? What advice might you offer someone facing this type of behavior at work?

I’d love your thoughts.

 

Advertisements

I recently got an email from someone wondering if a list exists of workplaces that are “stutter friendly.” Those are my choice of words. The person emailing me described such a workplace as “not scared” to hire someone who stutters and that wouldn’t look down negatively on the stuttering.

I am not aware of such a list but one might readily exist that we could generate just by asking people who stutter where they work. People who stutter who are employed are already in workplaces that have shown that they are not scared of stuttering and value the person’s skills and contributions more than they worry about stuttering.

The person who reached out indicated that she has been looking for work for over two years and can’t get past the interview phase. She believes it’s because of her stuttering. I pondered how to reply to her. She is an IT Engineer so definitely has skills and abilities that make her employable.

I have no list of “stutter friendly” workplaces that I can just forward her. I wanted to be encouraging and helpful so I asked her where she lives and what types of jobs she’s been applying to. I’m hoping she’ll reply back and maybe I will know someone in her field and in her geographic area that might be able to point her to a good job lead with an employer who values both skills and diversity.

It would be really cool if the National Stuttering Association (NSA) could develop a network of employers in the United States who are “stutter friendly” for just these kinds of situations. In my work as a member of the Board of the NSA, I am leading an initiative on employment advocacy which focuses on helping people who stutter manage communication either during job search or after getting the job.

We’re doing some exciting things like offering mock interviews, one-on-one consultations to discuss workplace stuttering and we’re sponsoring a series of webinars on stuttering more successfully at work.

A long-term vision of mine includes having an Employer Stuttering Network where employers would “sign on” with the NSA as “stutter friendly” workplaces. I have thought about this since before I officially took my current role on the NSA Board. I think it can happen, but people would need to be willing to acknowledge that they stutter and share where they work. People who stutter obviously make great employees.

I am going to follow-up with this person who emailed me and try to find a workplace or two in her area that won’t be “scared” to talk to someone who stutters.

Wish me luck!

 

 

PamEpisode 166 features Kim Block, who hails from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Kim works as a secretary at a school for the deaf and knows sign language. She says, “It’s the only language I am fluent in.” Kim is married to her husband David who also stutters and they have two children.

Students and staff at her school are very supportive of Kim’s stuttering because she celebrates it. Every October, she has a party to celebrate International Stuttering Awareness Day. She emails tidbits about stuttering to colleagues and is very open about her stuttering. Peers are OK with her stuttering because Kim is OK with it.

Kim has also written a children’s book about stuttering. She wrote it for a little girl in her school who stutters because there were no books in the school library about stuttering. The book is called “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-Itis.” Kim has plans for the book to have a total of nine adventures. She has read the book in front of the whole school. Kim wants kids first experience with stuttering to be positive.

Listen in to a great conversation that really celebrates stuttering.

The music clip used in this podcast is credited to ccMixter.

PamEpisode 163 features Chani Markel, who hails from Teaneck, New Jersey. Chani just moved to NYC for a new job as a school-based speech language pathologist (SLP) with the NYC public schools. Chani also keeps busy with yoga and writing.

Listen in as we discuss the transformative experience Chani had with therapy which she sought out on her own when she was a senior in high school. This experience led her to pursue a career in speech language pathology.

We talk about the National Stuttering Association and the impact it has had on her life. The NSA has helped her both personally and professionally.

Chani also shares about her experience with starting a writing group, that combines writing about stuttering, communication and identity.

Chani offers words of wisdom for anyone who stutters thinking about becoming a SLP and offers to talk with anyone who’d like to explore this with her.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

PamEpisode 159 features Jaime Habing, who hails from Westerville, Ohio. Jaime is married to Andy and has three wonderful kids, Kerrigan, Jameson and Finn. Jaime is a registered nurse and currently works in a plastic surgery doctor’s office.

Listen in as Jaime tells parts of her story, from initially studying communication and journalism to eventually choosing nursing. We talk about how challenging nursing school is, and that she had teachers along the way who asked her if she was sure she was making the right choice, because of her stuttering.

We also speak about moments of shame and turning points for Jaime in her journey with stuttering, which were her first National Stuttering Association conference in Cleveland in 2010 and attending intensive therapy last year at the American Institute for Stuttering. Jaime shares that the more she talks about stuttering, the better she feels about herself.

And Jaime shares the very personal story about having an accident that has left her chin and bottom lip permanently numb. That coupled with stuttering certainly brings challenges. We wrap up this fantastic episode talking about Jaime’s 3 kids and their understanding of mom’s stuttering.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

 

PamEpisode 157 features Haley Mitchem who hails from Alexandria, Virginia. Haley is a Human Resources Manager for a federal contractor. She is also an avid soccer fan and player, playing on a couple of co-ed soccer teams.

We start out our conversation talking about soccer and how she manages her stuttering on the field. She says she is pretty vocal when playing and sometimes when she stutters, by the time she gets the word out, the play is over already! Haley takes this in stride as part of stuttering.

We also talk about her professional work and how she got into HR. Listen in as Haley describes how she actually stumbled into the field. But she definitely doesn’t stumble when at work – she doesn’t let her stuttering hold her back.

And listen as we discuss the transition Haley feels she has made regarding her stuttering, advertising stuttering and her participation in avoidance reduction therapy.

We wrap up this fantastic episode talking about stuttering as a disability and Haley offers advice from her unique perspective as both a person who stutters and a HR professional to job seekers.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

What goes through your head during that space between words when you are stuttering? You know what I mean, that often long pause that creates space between two words while you are having a block.

Is it something that you think about? I have. Not often because my blocks aren’t too long, but every once in a while I get one that seems long and definitely creates that space.

I often feel anxious, as it isn’t natural to have long pauses between words. Even when that is done intently by a speaker for emphasis, that space is often not as long as one created by a stutterer.

Sometimes I think to myself, “Oh no, not now.” Or I think, “What are they thinking?” I try to re-frame my thoughts and sometimes think, “Oh good, a moment to catch my breath.” Especially when I am presenting, I can use that space to compose myself and prepare for the fluent word that inevitably comes after the space.

Fluent people probably never give this a thought.


Podcasts, Posts, Videos

Glad you're stopping by!

  • 510,089 visits

Monthly Archives!

Copyright Notice

© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.
Advertisements