For a long time now, I’ve been comfortable with stuttering, and I haven’t let it impact me on a day-to-day basis. I am open and honest about it and I have often advertised to people that I stutter. But there is something different about being in a work environment, and I have come to a realization that maybe I am not fully comfortable with my speech.
I am currently a mergers and acquisitions consultant in New York City. Like most people early in their careers, I want to make a name for myself, impress my superiors, and be heard. I do not want to be known as the employee who stutters, and a part of me still thinks that this is how I am seen. I have realized that my biggest fear is not being seen or valued because of my stutter.
In the office, it often plays out like this: I am in a meeting, I speak up, I stutter, and then I have all these negative feelings coursing through my body which just results in more stuttering. Or, I am afraid to speak because of my stutter (so I don’t), which results in me not speaking up at all. I’ve been dealing with the emotional and physical exhaustion of stuttering when I choose to speak up, and the profound pain of silencing myself when I choose to stay quiet.
It is time to change my mindset.
Here are three reasons why I am done hiding from stuttering at work:
1. Everyone is Dealing with Something
We all have things that we are dealing with and this is just my thing– so I am going to own it.
2. Nothing has Power Over Me
I am going to own the fact that my stutter does not have this power over me. I am going to own that I cannot control what people think of me. It is exhausting. I am just going to reach for it because I have so much to offer.
3. I am who I am
My stuttering does not define me and does not define my story. So I’m breaking through, and get ready to listen because what I have to say deserves to be heard.
Tips to Help Others
- Connect: Seek out people who have dealt with this problem. You are not alone. Hearing other people’s stories has had a major impact on me. Go to a local NSA Meeting, attend an NSA or FRIENDS conference, attend an AIS Gala, or connect with people who stutter on Stutter Social. You can do this!
- Meditate: Mindfulness and meditation can help control the negative thoughts associated with stuttering. I am learning to let the negative thoughts just pass through. Try for twenty, ten, or even five minutes every day. These resources and these guided meditations are a great place to start.
- Be Open: Worried someone might be confused or caught off guard by your stuttering? Let them know you stutter and that it takes you extra time to speak sometimes. There’s a lot of good information on this topic, but check out some of the research on self advertising and also some basic tips.
If you’re struggling with your speech and want to talk, please connect with me on LinkedIn. You are not alone and do not have to go through this on your own. I am at a point in my life where I am ready to change – who is with me?
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder