The holidays are coming! Parties and gatherings are everywhere. Do you want to go? Meet someone? Connect with others? Have fun?
For people who stutter (PWS), joining a social gathering can be a daunting
experience. Parties can bring up vulnerability, self-judgment and a fear that connections won’t be made.
So for a PWS, they may struggle with:
- How to introduce themselves, knowing that they often stutter when saying their name;
- Making a comment to begin the conversation, but fearing that they will stutter. What will the listener think?
- Asking a question to continue the conversation, but what if the question comes out all wrong?
- Making comments to share their thoughts and ideas, but noticing that the listener is anxious and wanting to leave the conversation.
If you are a PWS who wants to go to a party, wants to connect with others and wants to feel at ease, here are some tips for starting and keeping conversations going in social settings.
For PWS, saying your name when introducing yourself often triggers unusual tension and stuttering.
Tip: Create a new touch point on your hand to connect to saying your name fluently. For example, glide your thumb over your finger tips from your baby finger to your index finer, stopping and pressing your thumb and index finer together. With this pressure between your index finger and thumb, say, “I’m Joe.”
Making Small Talk:
Often a simple comment or question can easily start a conversation e.g. Wow, was the traffic ever bad! Are you new to this area? What is your line of work?
Tip: If you happen to siutter or even if you don’t, you may say right away that you are a person who stutters. Tell them that it just takes a little longer to say what you want. Maintain eye contact and be attentive. This will hold the connection and the conversation with the person you are talking with.
Because questions allow you to learn something new, to ask more about a specific point or offer insight, questions weave the thread of interest and meaning into your communication.
Tip: If the “questions words” that begin a question e.g. ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘what’ are difficult for you to say, try this technique.
Place your index finger just below your ear on the joint of your jaw, either side will work. With your finger in this place, tension will be alleviated and the question word will come out fluently. You can then continue asking the rest of the question.
Adding a comment about something the other person has said that relates to a similar experience that you have had, creates something in common. This mutual experience sparks the sharing of thoughts and ideas.
Tip: Relax your mind, letting your thoughts flow with fluent speech. Notice the ease and comfort that you have when speaking from the confidence inside you. Your conversation filled with interest and curiosity, will hold the attention of both people, and your stutter will not be an issue.
Remember, speech is only 7% of your communication. The rest is your body language, eye contact, voice inflections and fluctuations and most important, your determination and confidence to talk.
Even though your stuttering is noticeable when you talk, the listener’s mind can identify it and then return to focus on the conversation.
To join my program, Easy Speaking for Stutterers, go to www.youcanspeakeasy.com and find out how you can begin speaking easily.