Engineer who stutters needs advice

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  • #1
aiq25
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Hello. I need some advice from people who might stutter or have dealt with a situation where someone stutters at their work. I graduated with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering last May (2012). I stutter and it gets worse during phone calls and interviews from potential employers and recruiters. It was very hard for me to get a job even with great references and almost two years of internship/professional experience. I also did a lot of engineering projects during my undergraduate that related to a lot of jobs I was applying for. I received a lot of phone calls and e-mails during my job search from recruiters and after talking with them on phone I could tell their tone changed once they realized I stuttered. For example, I would get a phone call or an e-mail and the recruiter would say I have great experience and would sound enthusiastic about talking to me. As soon as they realized I stutter the enthusiasm went away. I rarely heard back from them. But this might be normal I guess (not hearing back). Currently my stuttering is worse.

I'm thinking about switching jobs. I really would like to work for a company that has a good tuition reimbursement program. Currently I'm working on my Masters in E.E. and it's hard to pay for it out of pocket because I have a lot of other expenses. I'm also looking for higher pay because I accepted my current job at a pay that is much lower than the average salary for my field. I had to accept this job because I had no other choice.

I like my current job but we don't have a good tuition reimbursement program and I don't think the outlook for this company is great. Four engineers, one manager and the CIO have left the company since I started working here about a year ago. So I think it's time for me to start looking. But at the same time my current manager is really nice and he has no problem with my stuttering. Also I don’t have to deal with any customers because I’m in the R&D group. From my past experience I know some people did have problems with my stuttering even if they didn't show it or say anything about it. I'm pretty sure I didn't get a job at the place I did my internship/co-op for over 2 years because I stuttered (I even replaced two senior engineers and did a lot of work with senior engineers and managers).

My question is did anyone else experience something similar to what I have experienced? Also, do hiring managers and supervisors view stuttering as a negative aspect and/or how is it weighted against your skills? I know a lot of jobs require good communication skills and I think I have good written communication skills but not verbal. :(
 

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  • #2
SteamKing
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I would recommend that you get your doctor to refer you to a speech therapist to help you with your stuttering. These professionals can help you find out the underlying cause and overcome this problem. Without a doubt, stuttering inhibits effective oral communication, but it can be overcome.

Did you see 'The King's Speech' by any chance? Stuttering affects all kinds of people for different reasons. Don't try to deal with this on your own. Get help.
 
  • #3
aiq25
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I would recommend that you get your doctor to refer you to a speech therapist to help you with your stuttering. These professionals can help you find out the underlying cause and overcome this problem. Without a doubt, stuttering inhibits effective oral communication, but it can be overcome.

Did you see 'The King's Speech' by any chance? Stuttering affects all kinds of people for different reasons. Don't try to deal with this on your own. Get help.

I did see "The King's Speech", it's a good movie and I can relate. I did go to a therapist before but not recently (not in the past 5 years). I'm thinking about going back again but I'm a little worried my stuttering might be worse after the therapy is over. I have heard of this happening from people who have gone to therapy.
 
  • #4
SteamKing
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You won't know until you try. Your stutter may have a physiological or psychological cause. That's why I suggested that you consult your doctor first. He might refer you to a specialist other than a speech therapist, like a neurologist, perhaps. You won't know until you talk to someone.
 
  • #5
Borek
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Being married to a speech therapist I strongly suggest you go to see one as soon as possible :wink:

Seriously.
 
  • #6
TomServo
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It's a shame people are going to be so EVIL about your impediment. Have you tried learning ventriloquism? I hear it can help with stutter.

Lots of people successfully conquer their stutter. Look at Rowan Atkinson. Watch him in BlackAdder and you see he's a genius at verbal delivery.
 
  • #7
retro10x
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As a kid I had significant speech impediments, including stuttering, for awhile. My parents sent me to a speech therapist every week for many years, and my speech is "normal" now. So I can attest to that actually working. However, I was young, and I hear the older you are the harder it is to get rid of it. Occasionally I slip and say something wrong, but I usually catch myself before it leaves my mouth. From what I remember, it was like being taught muscle memory. It was a long and frustrating process, but it was definitely worth it.
 
  • #8
Moneer81
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aiq25,

I am sorry about the struggles that you are going through. I can only image how hard this must be, I am a stutterer myself.

My advice is: you will have to do something about your stuttering, because no matter where you go or what job you will do, you cannot avoid speaking to people, making phone calls, and giving an occasional presentation or talk. I know the idea of giving a presentation or a talk sounds horrifying, but unfortunately, those skills are vital for a successful career.

People are very uncomfortable around stutterers, and I am sure most recruiters would rather move on to the next candidate than deal with being uncomfortable. Hiring managers place a great deal of importance on "communication skills" so they might pass on you because they might view this as poor communication skills, where in reality they're simply uncomfortable.

I know that doing something about your stuttering is much easier said than done. But that is your only option. Luckily for you, there are ways to help you control your stuttering to the point where people won't notice it. I know because I have gone through what you're going through and I consider myself to be fluent now. Do I stutter sometimes? Sure I do. But if you think about it, everyone does. Very few people have perfect speech.

Someone suggested therapy. I second that opinion. If you can't find the time or the financial resources (it could be rather expensive) or if you'd like to talk to a fellow stutterer who has been there, then PM me. I'd be happy to send you a copy of a stuttering therapy program that I am in the process of putting together. Not selling anything here, just sharing useful information.

Best of luck,
 
  • #9
Choppy
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I think this is one of those issues where most people know they can't fault you for the disability and they likely even make a conscious effort to be fair, but on some level, perhaps even subconsciously, a bias creeps in.

I only ever worked with one person who had a significant stutter and from my point of view he knew his stuff very well, but I felt that other people didn't give him a fair shake. I don't know if that had anything to do with this stutter or some other aspect of his job performance that I wasn't aware of.

I'll just throw this out there, but what about something like a text-based interview? Unorthodox I know, and the potential employer may not be prepared for something like that, but if you're applying for a position that doesn't require dealing directly with customers, if you could type out your replies, then maybe the employer might get a better feel for your true personality. It's just a thought.
 
  • #10
chiro
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I'd also recommend in conjunction with other techniques already mentioned, that you join a public speaking club that has a warm and encouraging atmosphere when/if you feel ready.

You can get confidence speaking in front of people which when its done naturally and semi-consciously will help you transition from the test-ground (the public speaking club) to the raw-ground.

Toastmasters is an organization just like this and there should be a club somewhere that will provide a fit that meet your needs.
 
  • #11
yungman
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I'd also recommend in conjunction with other techniques already mentioned, that you join a public speaking club that has a warm and encouraging atmosphere when/if you feel ready.

You can get confidence speaking in front of people which when its done naturally and semi-consciously will help you transition from the test-ground (the public speaking club) to the raw-ground.

Toastmasters is an organization just like this and there should be a club somewhere that will provide a fit that meet your needs.

+1000

As a manager before, I would at least give you a chance, as R&D and design don't need to speak.

Public speaking, performance all help. I was a rocker before and I played on tv, radio, stadium and all sort of concert. I never feel nervous standing up and speak. So performance art help too. Join a debate team...on politics:eek:, that will get you going!

If you are still in school, get a TA job. I was a TA for a nursing chemistry lab, on top of public speaking, lots of nice looking future nurse too!:biggrin:

Your's sound like more nervous than stuttering problem.
 
  • #12
Jufro
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I have been to a speech therapist in the past. Going is always a good step.

But there are also exercises you can do on your own.

Chiro's idea is wonderful but even without a group you can read aloud to yourself.

Poetry, I find, is helpful as the words tend to have a flow to them and this makes it a little easier for me.

Best of Luck
 

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