Briefly describe your daily job duties.
My typical day involves a lot of researching, writing, and editing. However, it also involves meetings where my input is expected, conducting conference calls or phone interviews, and communicating with my departmental team, general coworkers, or our contributing writers. Sometimes I have to speak at meetings and, about twice a year, my company puts on a trade show where I am always talking with my team, event staff, and, most importantly, with our attendees.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
Phone interviews handily top the list. Our events are taxing, but that’s more because I am a textbook introvert and being surrounded by thousands of people who expect something of me is EXHAUSTING. But honestly, I also thrive on making people feel special and welcome, and it’s so easy to get swept up in attendees’ infectious energy.
Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
I’ve been at my job for almost five years. I didn’t talk about my stutter until a few months after I started working there. Three things happened that sparked me to talk about my stutter.
First, my office was a two-minute walk from a speech therapist, which is finally what got me into speech therapy at age 30. Second, I met my first adult person who stutters at a work event a few months into my job. (It was absolutely revelatory to finally have a conversation with someone who “gets it.”)
Finally, I gave a half-hour presentation about six months into my job and told the audience that I stutter at the start of my talk. Afterwards, I was absolutely gob smacked by the number of people who told me that they never noticed my stutter, confided about either a loved one who stutters or their own experiences with disfluencies, or told me that they hoped my stutter never keeps me from reaching for the life I want.
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
My stutter has taught me patience and empathy better than any other teacher possibly could. I feel like I owe other people the patience it takes to stay focused on what I’m saying rather than how I’m saying it. Also, no one loves the written word like a writer who stutters and no one can laugh at themselves like a person who stutters who’s chosen to accept their stutter, which means I take what I do seriously—not myself.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
No one notices your stutter more than you do. It’s just one small part of who you are. It’s natural for it to influence you but it does not have to define you. You are so much more than your stutter!