Did you know there was an International Stuttering Awareness Day? Saturday, Oct. 22, marks the day to spread the word and remember that stuttering does not have to be something bad. Indeed, there is a lot that most people can learn from those who stutter (70 million individuals worldwide).

One out of every hundred people stutters. They are no less intelligent than everyone else, but they constantly struggle when saying their names, ordering food, and building new relationships. Digital communications may help them face those challenges, but they will always need to have personal interactions because that’s what helps us all survive as species.

Stuttering, Girl
International Stuttering Awareness Day is celebrated every year on October 22. Image credit: iStock.

It is common among people who stutter to hide their condition by texting a message instead of making calls. Emails and instant messaging apps allow them to better structure their sentences and carefully say the words they want to say to their friends, family, customers, teachers, and colleagues.

But personal interaction cannot be totally replaced by anything in the world. Indeed, research by MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle shows that the rise of digital communications is negatively affecting interpersonal skills, especially in children who are in the age of developing these very important skills. Turkle’s study was reported by TIME magazine.

The key to building successful relationships is cultivating them personally and show the stuttering as something that is totally okay. Malcolm Fraser, the founder of the Stuttering Foundation, told the Huffington Post that he never hid his stuttering while building his successful business.

He didn’t have the tools currently offered by Facebook, Gmail or WhatsApp during his career as a business executive, so he challenged himself to have personal contact with employees and customers alike.

Instead of sending an email from the HR department to express how grateful he was for his employees’ years of services, he held annual company dinners and worked hard to read their names. He looked each and every employee in the eye and expressed his gratefulness towards them.

A key to fluency

Today, many companies might prefer to post a note on its intranet, but Malcolm realized the impact of interpersonal communication, which cannot be outweighed by digital interaction regardless of how hard it is for people who stutter. His 1978 book Self-Therapy for the Stutterer serves as a reminder of one of the keys to fluency that will always work:

“Trying to hide your stuttering only helps to perpetuate it. Tell people with whom you talk that you are a stutterer and adopt an attitude of being willing to stutter voluntarily”, Malcom wrote, as quoted by the Huffington Post.

The book continues to say that an honest and open attitude can help the stutterer to significantly reduce their levels of shame and embarrassment that makes it even more difficult for them to speak.

Of course, it is also crucial that people who don’t stutter show their support and adopt an understanding attitude towards those affected by this condition.

Source: The Huffington Post