Stuttering is a chronic fluency disorder that affects more than 70 million people worldwide. You may have this communication disorder, or you may know someone who stutters. It is quite natural to worry about the future of an individual who faces struggles when trying to say their own name. But, does that mean the world should deny them the chance to prove their worth? Should workplaces blatantly discriminate against people with stammering?

If you are someone who stutters, you already know how difficult it is to crack a job interview! You know how much effort it takes to convince the employers that you are just as capable as your competitor who happens to have no speech or communication disorder, if not more capable!

What jobs can people who stutter get? 

So this one is for everyone who is about to interview someone or hire someone who stutters.

It is almost impossible to go through life without coming across someone who stutters. It is an incredibly common speech fluency disorder. Men are 4 times more likely to stutter than women. In many cases, people who stutter began dealing with the speech problem early in their lives and still continue to do so. However, stuttering does not indicate incompetence or lack of intellect.

Today, you can find people who stutter meeting the responsibilities of company CxOs, professors, researchers, teachers, soldiers, doctors, nurses, air traffic controllers and customer service associates. While hiring someone who stutters, you need to keep in mind that you need to foster an inclusive workspace that can motivate them to be productive.

What should you know about a potential employee who stutters?

Employee that stammers

There is a good chance that you have either interviewed someone who stutters, or you will soon interview a candidate who stammers. Before you do so, you must know a few facts about stuttering and employment –

  1. People who stutter are not always anxious, shy or fearful. It is a gross misconception. The negative emotions may come from a less-than-friendly work environment. Those who stutter are complete individuals just like non-stutterers and they can experience a full range of emotions.
  2. Anxiety or fear is not the cause of stuttering. The causes of stuttering may be genetic. Neurological anomalies in the brain can cause a person to stutter. However, these anomalies, in no way, compromise the person’s ability to meet their job necessities.
  3. Stuttering symptoms can vary between different people. Those who stutter can have “good” and “bad” days. On some days, they are likely to stutter more, on the others they significantly stutter less.
  4. Job interviews, phone calls and video conferences are some of the worst-feared situations for people who stutter. it is up to the employer to ensure that the person feels comfortable during a job interview, especially if it is a virtual one. If the person stutters excessively during the interview, you must not think that it’s indicative of how they will perform on the job.
  5. You may even come across someone who stutters with less severity but does not acknowledge himself or herself as someone who stutters. That typically happens due to the fear of discrimination, criticism or humiliation. It is not mandatory for someone with a speech disorder to disclose the fact. However, your office or team should be inclusive enough to feel him/her welcome.

Why should you hire someone who stutters?

People who stutter develop particular skill sets that others generally don’t have. Here are some qualities your potential employee who stutters might have –

  1. S/he may be a good listener – When people face trouble voicing their ideas and opinions, they begin to listen more. People who stutter often compensate for their lack of fluency with superior listening skills. An employee with good listening skills can be instrumental while noting important points during conferences and meetings. They are also more likely to understand client briefs and follow instructions correctly. They may even find it easier to deliver exactly what the client needs.
  2. He/she may be very observant – People who tend to quietly listen are often more observant and patient. Anyone, who has struggled for years with words, is likely to observe every small detail of an ongoing project. People who stutter often show higher levels of emotional intelligence since being at the receiving end of bullying and criticism makes them wiser beyond their years. Hiring someone who stutters may be a great idea if your company deals with several important projects and demanding clients at the same time.
  3. They can improve team communication – People who stutter can change group dynamics for the better. Understanding someone who stutters requires more patience, more attention and better understanding. Having an employee who stutters can improve the communication of your team and the workplace in general. The other employees may even learn about new nuances of communicating and creating a workforce that’s more adaptable and versatile.

What should you NEVER tell a job candidate who stutters?

Things not to say to someone who stammers

Instead of making assumptions about a person’s abilities, skills and qualifications, you should have an honest discussion. In many cases, people who stutter, have several skills and an adaptive attitude that others lack. They typically develop these through years of trying to compensate for their stuttering.

Here are a few points you must avoid while interviewing someone who stutters –

  1. Don’t ask them to relax or slow down – they have heard it too many times in their lives to count. Instead of providing them with valueless advice, you can work on your patience. If a candidate specifically mentions their speech impediment during the interview, you can simply thank them for the information and put them at ease.
  2. Don’t assume they will be bad at communications – if the job entails communication skills including phone use, messaging and emailing, ask the candidate about their experience and comfort level. You can always inquire how the candidate feels about handling daily communications as long as you come across as respectful.
  3. Don’t discriminate – do not deny someone a job simply because they stutter! Every company should make adjustments and allowances for people with impairments and stuttering is a speech disability, which does not cause any impairment in decision making or logical thinking.

It might be your first time interviewing a candidate who stutters, but if you keep these few points in mind, the interview should proceed smoothly and unbiasedly. Since stuttering is NOT a reflection of the person’s abilities and intelligence, you should definitely give the new candidate a fair chance at the interview.

On the other hand, if you already have an employee or coworker who stutters, you can find out the correct way to talk to them. Moreover, you can make them feel comfortable in an inclusive work environment. Find out more about talking to someone who stutters with Stamurai.