The one thing every job candidate focuses on is personal presentation. Only people that have a stammer though have one larger problem to turn their attention to.
The communication battle!
Whilst every candidate in the running for the job will have the same concerns, for the stammerer, it is an almighty challenge and a recipe for disaster.
A study of thirty-six men conducted by Clare Butler of Newcastle University, found that each reported discrimination from employers. One interviewer even suggested that the person look for work that is more suitable.
Discrimination is a major problem for society as a whole; however, you can control the perception people have of you.
The way you do that is to speak with dignity.
Control your speech and speak when you are ready to speak. Not when an interviewer commands you to speak. Sure, your job will require you to follow orders, but you must first have respect for yourself and have your own opinions on matters, too. The opinions you have could be vital to business growth, or even improved productivity, but they’re no good locked up in your mind because of a fear of speaking.
There’s an entire initiative taking place to help employers understand and tap into the massive power of knowledge and skill sets that people with stammers can contribute, given the right environment. That’s the Employers Stammering Network, operated by The British Stammering Association.
That’s on the employer side though. You have your own part to play, too.
The trick is to get comfortable with your own speech and take control at the interview. That can be difficult but certainly not impossible.
Eye contact is one of the most crucial things to maintain. So too is speech control.
While it will feel like a daunting task, take relief from the proven fact that if you show you’re aware of your speech and actively slowing down to get the words out, the person you are talking to will feel more relaxed. Stammering through a conversation with a naturally fluent speaker makes them feel nervous. Nobody enjoys feeling anxious, so you need to reduce your own anxiety and that of the person, or persons in the interview room.
Speak slower than you’re used to and tell them this:
Speaking is challenging, but it has forced me to listen more intently.
Turn your weakness into strength right off the bat. Employers know the secret to great communication is listening. It’s a cardinal rule in business – shut up, listen and then speak.
From customer service facing roles to board meetings, the same rule applies. Listen first to understand the topic of discussion, and then chime in with contributions.
That’s the same approach to use at the interview, after you have addressed the elephant in the room. Yes, I had a stammer but you know what, it’s made me a better listener. If you want to listen to what I can offer your business, listen to me in my time.
The more confident you are in having your message heard and understood, the more of a relaxed atmosphere you will find yourself being a part of.
Now that’s not always going to work. There can be companies, as highlighted in the study by Clare Butler, who are hell bent on leaning on societal discrimination, in which case you are far better off to let their business struggle on and take your unique talents to a firm that will appreciate your skills.
You will know yourself from the attitude of the person interviewing you if the company is worth considering the job offer. The person conducting the interview is a company representative. The very first person in the business you will speak directly to. If that cannot develop into a satisfactory rapport during the time in the interview, there will be a far more accepting employer somewhere else.
Stammering at work affects one percent of all adults. Predominantly male, however self-control and being open to raising the issue yourself is a first step towards an accepting conversation.
Interviewers are aware of employment law and will be hesitant to raise the issue, even though they are aware of it.
It will be the elephant in the room but only you can raise the issue because employment law is a concern for those interviewing you. Raise the topic yourself and be sure to include the statement that it’s made you a stronger listener.
Turn your weakness to strength and your chances of being hired will be drastically increased.