Handling stuttering and phone fear: Advice from a person who stutters

From the electrical telegraph, to the rotary dial phone, and now the cellphone, humans have always had a longing and desire to innovate and communicate. But, who would have thought that this technological advancement would be such a terror to a segment of the population?

Now, I’ve never been one to let my stutter stop me. I campaigned and was elected for student government in college. I work and volunteer in politics. I have been elected to a political youth association and I’ve sang for literally over a thousand people.  But if you put a phone in front of me and ask me to talk to a stranger, you’ll – to paraphrase the great Sheldon Cooper - render me virtually catatonic.

I’m not sure about you, but the telephone and I have a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, it’s a wonderful tool for communicating. Living far from my childhood home creates a need for a phone (and a fabulous long distance plan!). However, when it comes to phone interviews, ordering food, and talking to people I’ve never met, the panic sets in.

How do I cope with this? Well, I’m not going to lie, sometimes I avoid. I say, I don’t really need to order food. Maybe I’ll even force myself to walk to the store. Is it the healthiest option? No. So, I try to force myself to make the call.

I’m sure there are many ways to deal with this stress. I have never been one to allow myself to crumble under pressure. To this day, I remember my Grandma telling me I could do anything. I have held that with me my entire life. I try to get in the mindset and allow myself to believe that.

So what do I do now? I take a deep breath and tell myself to take my time. I find the ‘turtle talk’ as prescribed by my childhood speech language pathologist dreadful, so I just try and talk slower than I usually would. Side note, if you know me, you KNOW that is extremely difficult for a fast talker like me! And I just do it. If I stutter, that’s ok. It’s the act of doing something I’m afraid of that is empowering.

It starts with one empowering moment. By conquering one fear, you’re on your way to conquering the next. I’ll let you know how my phone interviewing skills develop.

How do you handle your phone fear? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


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