Tips for Parents, Family, and Friends

It is important to remember that your first instinct when communicating may not always be the most appropriate. These tips can be helpful in improving communication between people who stutter and those around them.

Tips for People Who Stutter | Tips for Listeners | Tips for Everyone
Tips for People Who Stutter - Helping Friends & Family be Listening Allies
  • Assume that most people will be polite about stuttering if they know how.
  • Accept that many people do not know how to respond to stuttering. Also, realize that listeners may not know you stutter even when you are in the middle of a block.
  • Tell listeners what you need from them. For example, you could say, "It's easier for me to talk if you don't supply words for me." Use a tone of voice that you wouldn't mind hearing if you were the one who needed guidance.
  • Remember that long-standing behaviors take time to change. Be realistic in your expectations of listeners. Be willing to restate your needs. Keep doing so in a nice way. Give positive feedback when listeners do a good job.
  • Use humor when appropriate and comfortable.
  • Be open about stuttering.
Listen when others are talking. Remember that fluency is only one aspect of communication. Use all your other assets (smile, voice, charm, vocabulary, good looks, gesture, interesting topic...)

You have tremendous power over your listeners. They will be as comfortable with your stuttering as you appear to be.
Tips for Listeners - Communicating with People Who Stutter
  • In general, treat the person who stutters as you would like to be treated.
  • Focus on the person's message rather than on disruptions in speech.
  • Set a relaxed pace using a moderate rate of speech yourself.
  • Be patient when a response seems slow.
  • Maintain natural eye contact and facial expression.
  • Avoid instructions regarding talking such as 'Slow down.' or 'Take a deep breath.'
  • Do Not fill in words.
  • If you do not understand what is said, let the person know. Don't fake it.
  • Be aware that some people who stutter have more difficulty in the telephone than in person.
Be an ally. You have enormous influence on how other friends and family respond to the person who stutters.

If you are a good listener, others will unconsciously observe what you do. Many people can learn from you without any instruction.
Tips for Communication for Everyone
  • Wait your turn to talk.
  • Don't talk when others are talking.
  • Listen when others are talking.
  • Say what is important to say.
Cooperate to Communicate!