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I hope you’re all keeping well 🙂
I’ve had a stutter for as long as I can remember, and as I’ve mentioned quite a few times on this page, it’s pretty safe to say that it’s played a massive role in my life. For a lot of people who stutter, making eye contact with somebody while you’re talking to them can be extremely difficult, let me break down why for you in today’s blog!
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For stutterers, it is very commonly the anticipation that you are going to stutter that inevitably causes you to do so. It’s a cruel irony, I know, but it’s something that a lot of people who stutter start to work on resolving from a very young age.
However, this is something that is further exacerbated by the body language of the person that you are speaking to, which is something that I typically refer to as the “Stuttering Stare”.
A stuttering stare is when speaking to people who stutter, people can look as if they are just waiting for when you are going to stutter next. While in the grand majority of cases, this is done unconsciously with no ill intentions attached, it can add a lot of additional pressure to the person, which sadly increases the likelihood of them stuttering…
When I was talking this through with one of my colleagues from work, they asked me “What should I do instead of doing the stuttering stare?”
Now, honestly speaking, this is an excellent question and is one that I was not too ready for at first. Thinking it through logically though, it’s all about making the person that you are talking to feel as comfortable as possible. The relationship between comfortability and the likelihood of staring at very intertwined concepts, and making a stutter feel comfortable and valued goes such a long way for them when it comes to managing this speech.
If you were to follow that up with “how do I make somebody feel more comfortable”, now that’s a very subjective question, as people react differently to each situation, but there are a few pointers that I would like to mention here.
Firstly, I would say to try to reduce the amount that you are staring at somebody, as this can help to make them feel a lot less stressed/under pressure, but you’ve got to be careful here, as doing it too much can give off the impression that you aren’t listening or are not interested in what they are saying, it’s something that may take a little bit of practice doing.
Next, I would say that if you can see that a stutterer is perhaps struggling with a word, or cannot get a word out, you could try rephrasing the question that you asked, as sometimes we do just get stuck on a certain word, and no matter what we try to do, we just cannot get it out. Rephrasing the questions helps us to think about it differently, which can hopefully lead to an answer that we can say in a more fluent manner.
The one thing that you should never do though is to finish a stutterer’s sentence for them, this is one of the worst things that you can do. For people who stutter, we really value our voices, they are something that we have worked so hard on using, and they are very important to us. When you finish our sentences for us, even if it’s with the best intentions, it feels as if you are taking our voice away from us, which does enormous damage to a stutter’s confidence. This isn’t something that’s meant to scare you, it’s just something to keep in mind 🙂
Trying to find a sustainable resolution to the stuttering stare is something that I’ve always tried to incorporate into my “Sweeney’s Stuttering Solutions”, to try to combat its impact on me and other stutterers wherever I can. As with a lot of things, it can be greatly improved with practice, and with raising the awareness of how different reactions and scenarios impact stutters, which is the exact thought process behind posts like this!
There we have it, that’s all for today’s blog on stuttering stares, what do you think? Would you like to see more stuttering-focused posts going forward? Are there any other topics that you would like me to take a look at here on that page?
Be sure to let me know your thoughts and answers to the above questions, either in the comments below or through our Facebook page!
Thank you all for reading & I hope you have a lovely day!
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