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Communication Skills for Stutterers: Meeting New People

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

by: Frances Evesham

Successful communication depends more on your skill with people than on whether you stammer or stutter. Follow this Five Step guidance for meeting new people and you can make an immediate impact in any communication situation.

Remember that the rules of good communication don't depend on what you say. More than three quarters of your meaning comes across in your body language and facial expression.

Help the new person feel good

Behave as though you like the person you are talking to, you're interested in them and you want to get to know them, and they'll pick up on that. They might not even notice that you stutter: chances are they'll be too busy worrying about how they come across to you.

Your goal in all new communication situations is to make the person you're meeting feel totally relaxed and comfortable. Remember that almost everyone finds that meeting someone new makes them anxious. You can get a step ahead by having your communication technique in place.

Step One

Start off by breathing out all the air in your lungs and letting them fill up naturally. Breathing out will relax your body even when you?re feeling tense and nervous.

Step Two

Look at the person you want to talk to with your head up, thinking to yourself, 'He/she looks nice. I'm going to like him/her.' Keep saying that over and over in your head.

Step Three

Then notice something you genuinely like about them. It could be the expression on their face, their jacket, their haircut: you can always find something. Say 'I like you,' silently, in your head. Make sure you mean it: if you don't it will show.

Step Four

Now make eye contact, nod and smile warmly at them. They'll smile right back at you, because that's what people learn to do when they're babies.

Step Five

By now, you'll be in rapport with each other. They'll probably say hello first, as your smile will have made them think you've already greeted them. If not, putting your hand out to shake theirs is often a good way to get past that first word. They'll be charmed by your old-fashioned courtesy.

Why the Five Step Strategy works

This technique is so simple, yet so beautifully effective, because it makes the new person you want to meet feel comfortable.

By breathing out, you relax your body (don't make that common mistake of taking an extra big breath: that will just tense up your muscles.)

By keeping your head up, you'll feel more confident, and it will show. That in turn will help the stranger to feel your confidence and at once relax and feel more comfortable with you. Looking up at the world is far better than turning in on yourself with your chin on your chest.

Thinking good thoughts about the other person will make you, quite unconsciously, give out the positive body language signals that make a new acquaintance work.

Remember, when you smile at someone, they're programmed to smile right back at you.

Throughout, you're building up a rapport. By getting on the right wavelength, you'll feel so comfortable that you'll stutter less. At the same time, because you're feeling happy with them, it won't matter whether you stutter or not.

What if they ask me my name?

Often, people who stutter find it hard to say their name. Try out strategies and find one that works for you. Many people carry a card in their pocket and often just give it to the new person. If you find it easier to give a nick name, do that. One successful stutterer I know used to give a completely false name at the first meeting, knowing that most people forget the name anyway. By the time he had to tell the truth, he knew them well enough to say it.

Sometimes the very best approach is to say: 'I always stutter over my name.' Then it doesn't matter whether you do or not.

Always remember that success in meeting people depends, not on your speech, but on getting on the same wavelength with them. Make them like you before you even open your mouth.

About The Author
Frances Evesham writes on language and communication topics, based on many years experience as a speech and language therapist.She is also an NLP practitioner and a registered witness intermediary in the justice system.

If you'd like to know more about communications, why not visit her site at http://www.speechcontacts.co.uk
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