Job Seekers Who Stutter Can Become Great Employees
But Initial Interview Holds Challenge
People who stutter may be harder workers because they have to compensate for their disability, speech experts say.
That's good news for employers.
'People who stutter often have a temperament that's perfectionist because many have to work tirelessly to gain fluency,' said Barry Guitar, Ph.D., professor of speech-language pathology at University of Vermont. Dr. Guitar has dealt with his own stuttering on the job.
If employers dismiss candidates for employment because of a speech impediment, they may be losing an opportunity to hire a hard-working, dedicated employee.
'It's important for employers to look beyond the disfluencies to see the underlying qualities of the applicant,' adds Pat Garahan of San Diego, who has been on both sides of the fence as an employer and as a job candidate/interviewee who stutters. 'Listen to what applicants say, rather than how they say it.'
The research is conclusive that people who stutter perform successfully in a range of jobs that require communication skills, from sales to medicine to public relations.
However, this may not be evident during the initial interview, perhaps the most stressful speaking situation for everyone, much less someone who stutters. The best way to approach an employee's stuttering is through honest communication and by refraining from making assumptions about job-related abilities and skills.
On the other hand, people who stutter have a responsibility to be forthright with their employers and should be willing to talk about how their stuttering might impact particular areas of performance.
'Past research has shown that when you are open about stuttering to your employer, you are far more comfortable in the workplace,' emphasizes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America. 'If you hide your stuttering, you not only put yourself under tremendous pressure but also limit your effectiveness on the job.'
Stuttering: Answers for Employers, a free brochure now in its all-new fourth edition for 2006, has reached more than half a million employers and people who stutter during the past six years. It's the perfect tool to take to a job interview because it dispels the many myths surrounding stuttering, gives concrete facts about the disorder, and contains tips on how to handle stuttering in the workplace.
Editor's Note: This material would be perfect for a sidebar or breakout box:
Facts and Myths About Stuttering
- More than 3 million Americans stutter.
- People who stutter are as intelligent and well-adjusted as those who don't stutter.
- Stuttering is not the result of emotional conflict or fearfulness.
- Don't assume that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, anxious, fearful, or shy. Stutterers have same full range of personality traits as non-stutterers.
- People who stutter often have excellent communications skills. Many are very often qualified for and interested in positions requiring them to deal with members of the public on a daily basis.
- Stuttering varies widely in different people and varies in the same person over different times and places. Like all of us, they often have 'good' and 'bad' days with their speech.
- For those who stutter, a job interview is perhaps the single most difficult speaking situation they will ever encounter and is not indicative of how they would speak on the job.
- To an extent consistent with their abilities, people who stutter should be offered leadership opportunities and paths for promotion within an organization.
- Some people who stutter less severely may not acknowledge their condition publicly for fear of losing their jobs or being denied promotions. By keeping their condition a secret, they place themselves under enormous stress. This can impact their job performance.