National Stuttering Association

Ian MahlerReceiving Manager

    Ian Mahler

    Salt Lake City, UT
    Receiving Manager

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    As a Staff Level Manager at the biggest Costco in the world, I’m responsible for overseeing a continual smooth warehouse operation. This means if any matter requires attention in the warehouse, from employee or member concerns to equipment or other individual department issues, my role is to fix and rectify the situation.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The daily journey of managing and, if necessary, educating people about the time it takes me to communicate can be challenging. Stuttering can be a vicious, back-stabbing companion if I let it. It can also be a great way to let people know I’m communicating in an open, honest way and that they can do the same. It’s important for me to not let stuttering affect my own self-perception as a leader and authority figure in the workplace.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers, clients and or customers?
    I have been with Costco for over 22 years. My stuttering has evolved over time; during the interview process I was going through a period of heightened fluency to the point my stutter wasn’t overtly noticeable.

    I typically do not disclose my stutter unless someone asks me about it during conversation. I prefer to let my overt stuttering speak for itself. I typically stutter often and most times people who don’t know me will try to finish my sentences. When that happens, I continue speaking without acknowledging the interruption, and usually they get the point and let me finish.

    My co-workers know to let me finish, both from experience and because I put a note under my email signature.
    “A person who stutters”

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Stuttering has given me the gift of empathy. Being a child growing up with a stutter, without access to today’s many youth stuttering foundations, programs, camps, etc. was a terrible ordeal. On the outside I may have seemed fine mentally, but the negative aspects of the “stuttering iceberg” were rearing their ugly head on the inside.

    Stuttering has taught me how to view my employees as more than just a cog in a wheel. I often look past the task at-hand and look at what is unseen but communicated in other ways through body language and other mannerisms. I have learned over the years to look past the surface and learn what motivates each of my employees and how I can help them meet their personal goals related to work. Through empathy I can communicate that I value them and am truly concerned about their well-being.

    What’s your best advice for people in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Find a way to advertise your stutter that works best for you. Advertising my stutter through overt, open stuttering and via email has allowed me to be more at ease in the workplace.

    People I work with know what I’m about; I’m not hiding my stutter. People I don’t know get the point when I continue stuttering while speaking and they quickly understand I intend to communicate what and how I want to.

    There have been and will always be uncomfortable or anxious moments in the workplace regarding stuttering. (But there will always be stressful moments that aren’t related to stuttering in one’s career.) Being resilient and moving upward and onward can help get past the hard times.

    No matter what the issue, for me being resilient has been beneficial. Separating the event from the person, and classifying it as another experience to strengthen me, has helped shape my life journey.