There are many misconceptions that come along with stuttering, especially in the workplace. Employers may overlook the potential of people who stutter due to the negative stereotypes that may be associated with stuttering. Here’s what employers should know when it comes to interviewing or hiring someone who stutters:
Stuttering is Variable
The severity of stuttering varies widely among each person, and may even vary in the same individual from day to day. Fatigue, stress, and time pressure can increase stuttering in some individuals, and speaking to a figure of authority or saying one’s name can be difficult. Some people who stutter may pause before words, substitute words, and use phrases like “you know,” “um,” etc. when they anticipate a block. This may create the misconception that they are nervous, confused, hesitant, or uncertain. Job interviews can be extremely difficult for people who stutter and stuttering could be at its worst, so the degree of stuttering during this time should not be considered to predict how they will speak on the job.
Success with Stuttering
People who stutter are just as successful as those who do not stutter. A speech disorder does not indicate a lack of intelligence or competence. Employers should be open to hiring people who stutter and offer them leadership roles and paths for promotion as they do with others.
Good communication involves much more than just fluency; it includes listening skills, empathy, thoughtfulness, and having valuable things to say. Many people who stutter perform efficiently in jobs that require interaction with the public on a daily basis. Most people who stutter have great oral communication, regardless of their disfluency. Employers should not demand fluency; disqualifying potential employees due to a stutter can cause employers to miss out on valuable skills that the person could contribute to the workplace.
Employers can make reasonable accommodations for situations in which stuttering may prevent an employee from performing a speaking task. For example, if the front office staff takes turns answering the phone when the receptionist is away from their desk, relieve the person who stutters of this non-essential task. Instead, have them help with another task that doesn’t require as much speaking.
We Stutter @ Work
The NSA’s We Stutter @ Work initiative seeks to eliminate workplace stigmas to improve employment outcomes for people who stutter. Through a series of programs, the NSA informs, inspires, and equips people who stutter to improve their work opportunities. The NSA educates employers about stuttering and encourages companies to hire people who stutter.
SpeechEasy is a combination of proven technology and techniques which can be used to reduce stuttering. Worn in one ear and similar in appearance to a hearing aid, SpeechEasy has helped thousands increase their ability to communicate effectively and confidently. The program that comes with every SpeechEasy is supported by a team of fluency professionals who truly care about your success. Contact us today!