People who stutter may have a hard time getting their point across because certain words or sounds seem to get stuck. Someone who is stuttering may also show physical signs that they are struggling to communicate, including blinking their eyes rapidly or their lips may tremble.
If you are speaking with someone who stutters, these seven ways may help make the conversation easier.
1) Act normally.
Hearing someone stutter may be startling. But your reaction to someone’s difficulty speaking may actually make their stuttering worse.
Negative reactions or signs of impatience may make the person feel pressured to speak more rapidly, which can have the opposite effect, slowing their speech down even more.
When you behave normally, you may help the speaker feel more at ease, which can make the words come more easily. Make normal eye contact during the conversation, but don’t be falsely attentive.
If you are embarrassed by your reaction to the person’s speech, apologize for being surprised and go on with the conversation.
2) Don’t try to compensate.
Remember that stuttering is simply a difficulty getting the words out. It is not a sign of a mental or hearing limitation.
A person who stutters knows exactly what he or she wants to say, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
They just have a harder time communicating their thoughts. So resist the urge to slow your own speech or to talk more loudly than normal.
3) Give them time.
The best way to help someone who stutters is to give them the time they need to say what they want to say, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Wait for them to finish and encourage them by relaxing and staying calm.
Do not try to finish their sentences or guess what they are trying to say. This is more likely to add to their frustration and may make them feel that their own thoughts are not important.
4) Listen carefully.
Think about the message being communicated, rather than the delivery of the words.