A Blog by Voon Pang

Recently, I was reading September’s issue of New Zealand M2 magazine and stumbled across an article entitled “10 Things Golf Teaches Us About Business.” I normally glaze over articles about golf (give me an article on tennis anytime!) and/or business but this one had some thoughtful insights which seemed to apply to stuttering. The tips from the article about golf, life and work came from John Hanlon’s book “Golf: A Course in Life.” Here’s my interpretation of eight of the tips which we can all learn from, whether we are people who stutter or Speech-Language Pathologists working in the field of stuttering.

1. Think ahead and work back.

GOLF – Play each hole backwards in your mind. Start with the pin; choose the easiest place in the fairway to get to the pin from and the best way to get there from the tee. Then go ahead and play the hole in manageable stages.

STUTTERING – Choose your goal (do you want to speak more fluently or do you want to change how you stutter and stutter easier?) and work out how to get there. Think backwards. No one manages their stuttering overnight. Identify the stages you need to complete before you’re ready for the next.

 2. Learn from the best.

GOLF – Great players are usually generous with advice and encouragement. But you need to pick the right time to ask and be prepared to do the practice required.

STUTTERING – People who have successfully managed their stuttering are usually happy to share their knowledge with those hungry to learn. But you have to ask at the right time, in the right way, and then be prepared to put into practice what they pass on. You can do this by attending self-help meetings or contacting a SLP who specialises in stuttering.

 3. Competition is good.

GOLF – Competition requires us to give it our best with each and every shot. And the more we compete, the better we get at it.

STUTTERING – When you strive to better your communication skills in challenging situations, everyone wins. We need more effective communicators in a world where technology has allowed us to sit behind a computer and ‘chat.' Having a stutter enables you to become a ‘better than average’ communicator (Chmela, 2011) because the competition is set higher.

 4.  Make firm decisions and commit to them.

GOLF – Indecisiveness is ruinous. It’s crucial to make firm decisions and commit to them – especially on the greens.

STUTTERING – Too often, being indecisive on what speech skill or communication skill to use AND when to use it is draining. In the business world, people who take responsibility for making decisions are most likely to have the commitment to succeed. Similarly, in the stuttering, be proactive, take responsibility, and commit to how you communicate.

 5. Learn from your mistakes.

GOLF – Most of the mistakes we make in golf are mental errors; bad decisions in club or shots selection or simply poor course management. Mistakes are inevitable and learning from them is crucial for future success.

STUTTERING – We all make mistakes in our talking. It could even be argued that making mistakes is useful in the long run but only if we learn from them.

 6. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

GOLF – Most golfers know what it’s like to score well in the early holes, begin anticipating the round of your life, only to have it go awry in the latter. You must stay in the present until the very end.

STUTTERING – While it’s good to be encouraged by positive early results, don’t make overly optimistic assumptions about your speech. The late Dean Williams said “the quicker the fluency gains, the steeper the fall” (personal communication, Jane Fraser, 2012) – this holds true when you are a “journey” of successful stuttering management.

 7. Play to your strengths.

GOLF – Confidence is huge in golf. If you have a favourite club, use it more often, choking down where necessary. If you prefer full pitches rather than half shots, lay up accordingly. If you’re happier putting from the fringe rather than chipping, do so.

STUTTERING – Many effective communicators do no possess giant intellects or great versatility, they simply stick to the things they know and do best.

 8. Have fun.

GOLF – Having fun is the key to playing well. A bad attitude invariably leads to a bad score. When we enjoy ourselves, we get the most out of games in every respect.

STUTTERING – People who enjoy talking and communicating invariably do a better job at being effective communicators. Happy people take pride in what they do and maintain higher standards overall.

Have you got some sports tips to share that may help others with their stuttering? What else can we learn from sporting champions? Share below!

Pictured above: Sophie Gustafson, famous golfer and person who stutters. She can be found on our Famous People poster.

Posted Nov. 30, 2012