I have been working in sales since the age of 16 and having a stutter hasn’t once held me back, and I thought it was about time to put something out there about what to look out for with people with speech impediments. These are some of the things that I have found difficult whilst working in recruitment and possibly situations you have encountered too when interviewing candidates with speech impediments.
What to Look Out For
As with most people, a job interview can be a very difficult situation to be in. Factoring a speech impediment into the equation, it can take a lot of courage from the individual. This could certainly be a time when having a stutter could be at its worst, particularly when the person is really enthusiastic about the company/role they are interviewing for.
When interviewing a person who has a speech impediment, I.E someone like me who suffers from a stutter, I find it easier when the person I am talking to stays focused on what I’m saying about my experience, abilities and skills. It is normal to feel some anxiety or embarrassment when listening to someone who has a speech impediment, so concentrating on what the person is saying can be a good way to deal with this, even I can find it quite funny at times.
Not all aspects of having a stutter are so obvious. The person may come across as hesitant or confused, pausing before words and/or using phrases such as “you know”, “well actually”, “it could be said”, often these are just strategies to avoid stammering/stuttering. Me personally I put “and” in front of a lot of words which can sometimes confuse people when I’m describing the name of a person or company for example.
I find that these considerations help me out when I’m meeting new clients or candidates:
• Listen attentively and wait for the person to finish, a massive no-no in my books is trying to finish the words or sentences before I do
• Speaking normally in a relaxed and friendly manner, even if you are feeling a bit uneasy (Don’t worry, I find it funny sometimes so I get it)
• A big one is, don’t equate hesitant speech with uncertainty, it’s just that the person is struggling a little to get their words out – if this happens then try to make them feel at ease
• My big thing has always been killing the elephant in the room, whenever I’ve started a new workplace I always mention the fact I have a stutter. Personally, I like to make light of an uncomfortable situation to break the ice
On the Job
Whenever I’ve started a new job, I always struggle with my F’s (and with my name beginning with F, it can often be a struggle at times!) so a manager making the introductions can really help break the ice, this way it will show that you have an open-door approach in your workplace. Having said this, a stutter can be a very sensitive subject that some people may not want to discuss so a suggestion would be to have this discussion with your new employee beforehand.
If we ever have the pleasure of meeting or speaking with each other, please feel very free to ask me any questions you have as I’m very much an open book and personally I prefer to speak about it.
I hope this has given you an insight into something very personal to me, but also to many others who may find it hard to talk about, so next time you do come across someone with a stutter in the workplace try considering some of the points I have discussed, because they have plucked up the courage with something that they find difficult to do.
Thanks very much for reading.
Written by Freddy Papworth, Consultant – Contract UX and Design
LinkedIn: Fredrick Papworth / RedCat Digital
Twitter: @Freddy_RedCat / @RedCat_Digital
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