When speaking with someone who stutters, keep in mind that they are aware of their condition and may have struggled with their confidence in speaking in the past and/or present. It is not always easy to speak to others, whether it be a good friend or a complete stranger. To someone who does not stutter, it may look like an easy fix that can be solved with just a little advice. However, many people who stutter have been dealing with it for their entire lives. If you are the listener, here are some ways that you can truly help when speaking to someone who stutters:
Don’t Give Advice
Refrain from making remarks like “Slow down,” or “Take a breath.” Advice such as this can sometimes feel demeaning, and can even lower your friend who stutters’ self-esteem. Talk to them like you are talking to any other friend – wait for them to finish speaking, then respond accordingly. A person who stutters does not want to feel like their condition is an inconvenience.
Show That You Are Listening
There is a huge difference between listening styles – passive and active listening. Active listening includes making eye contact, asking questions in response, and keeping an attentive facial expression. Shut down the background thoughts inside your head to give the person who is speaking to you your full focus. Try your best not to be a passive listener – hearing what is being said without retaining any information. Do you tend to fade out of conversations due to becoming distracted or disinterested? This may be a sign that you need to work on your listening skills.
Do Not Finish Sentences
As tempting as it may be to finish another person’s sentence or fill in a word for them when they just can’t seem to find it, it can feel demeaning to a person who stutters. They are trying their best to articulate each word carefully, so give them the chance to do so. Patience is key!
When speaking to a person who stutters, speak unhurriedly. Of course, do not speak so slowly that you sound unnatural, but just take the time to get your words out instead of rushing to spill your sentences. Doing so promotes good communication among everyone and may make your friend who stutters feel more comfortable in taking the time they need to get their words out clearly as well.
To learn more about stuttering and how to cope with it, visit our website. Our team of licensed Speech-Language Pathologists can help you understand the stutter, and how to live with it. Interested in one of our Speech Easy devices? Learn more on our website and call today for an appointment!