Here you'll find advice for employers on making things more manageable for people who stammer in the workplace.
Stammering in the workplace can pose a problem for those who experience it. People who stammer work in a variety of jobs (teachers, doctors, project managers, university lecturers, police officers, lawyers, politicians). All of us at the Scottish Stammering Network believe that they are capable of doing any job that they wish to.
Unfortunately, we feel that their skills can sometimes be overlooked.
However, if they are supported and some simple changes are made – people who struggle with stammering in the workplace can be excellent communicators who will perform well in any roles that they are given.
We would recommend the following examples of best practice to help those who are affected by stammering in the workplace:
- Interviews are difficult for most people but they may be more difficult and stressful for those who stammer. The person’s stammer may be at its worst during the interview. We would urge those on the interview panel to give the person adequate time to answer questions. Try not to predict how they will do in the job based on the degree of stammering during the interview.
- Listen attentively and wait for the person to finish what they are saying. Try not to fill in words or complete the person’s sentences. Maintain natural eye contact, even when the person is stammering. Above all, try to be patient and focus on what the person is saying and not how they are saying it.
- A person who stammers often has difficulty saying their own name. You can help them settle in by being the one to introduce them to colleagues, managers and external clients. This will help to break the ice and means that the person who stammers does not have to approach people cold.
- Group introductions can also be awkward and daunting for someone who stammers. This is especially true if people are gathered with each person taking a turn to say their own name. In such situations, we would recommend asking the person who stammers to introduce themselves first or second. This could reduce their anxiety.
- Making telephone calls can be difficult for some people who stammer. It may be useful to give them some private space to make or receive calls and/or so they can practice with some easier calls.
Undoubtedly, the best way to approach an employee’s stammering and provide support is through listening and honest communication.
Some people may find it a sensitive topic. Therefore they may be reluctant to talk about it. However, it is important that employers show that they will provide the necessary support to enable the person to fulfil their potential.
We would encourage employers to speak to the person and see if there is any additional training or reasonable adjustments that could be made to help them achieve their goals. Some simple changes could make a big difference to the person who stammers. They will also, ultimately, feel much better about you as an employer.
If you feel like you need some more advice, or would simply like to learn a little more about stammering – feel free to visit the links in our Resources section. You can read the information available about the law surrounding the employment of people who stammer here.