Wednesday, March 10, 1999

Do's and don'ts in conversation




        There are certain things you should — and shouldn't do — when someone stutters during conversation, says Tom Scharstein, coordinator of the Northern Kentucky chapter of the National Stuttering Project.

        • Maintain eye contact with the stutterer.

        • Allow the person time to speak and finish the thought, phrase or sentence. Be patient and natural.

        • Set a relaxed tone and pace for conversation. Focus on what is being said, not how it is being said.

        • Freeze your expression or posture. Stutterers develop a sixth sense for reading body language and reactions, and they might perceive a change in expression or stance as a sign of disapproval, increasing the anxiety that produces stuttering.

        • Don't finish the word, sentence or phrase for the stutterer. Doing so can increase the person's nervousness.

        • Don't interrupt with comments such as “slow down” or “take your time.” Interruptions might be interpreted as patronizing.

       



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