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Tips To Communicate With Someone Who Stutters

Situation 1:

A: W….w….w…when are you g….g…..going to the g….g…g…grocery sh…sh….sh..shop?
B: In a minute, are you joining me?
A: ….I ….I…I think I am g….g….g…going but…..but…but..
B: Not feeling like going?
A: I..i..i..it’s not l…l…l… like that
B: (Self talk) how long should I wait for her to finish….
A: I ….. I …… I ……
B:  Hm OK… I am going now, see you later
A: OK (sad)

Stuttering is a well known speech difficulties but the exact cause and manifestation of this well known problem are not yet fully understood.  Although it is not funny at all to the people who stutter, it is often become a topic of laughter for some people. The situation as in the dialogue is an example of a conversation between a person who stutters and an example of reaction from a listener. Will you react the same as person “B” does?

4 tips for you

If you have parents, siblings, and friends or if you know anyone who stutter and are trying to help them to communicate efficiently- you can apply these 4 tips while having a conversation with them.  All you have to do is to simply remember and practice these 4 tips: understand, listen, be patient and support.

  1. Understand

    For a start, you must first learn and understand the real facts about stuttering.

    • The exact cause of stuttering is unknown
    • Stuttering is not related to a person’s mental status or a person’s confidence level
    • A person who stutters do not have any mental disorder
    • Stuttering happens beyond a person’s control

    When you know and believe the facts behind stuttering, it can actually help you to continue with the other 3 tips!

  2. Listen

    Be a good listener by:

    • Listening what the person wants to say without disrupting
    • Avoid harsh word such as telling them to be quiet or just simply leave while they are trying to finish their line
    • Give respond only after they finish
    • Show that you are listening to them
    • Be natural when you are having conversation with them (this simply means that, it is just like having a conversation with others who do not stutter)


  3. Be patient :

    You must be patient while having a conversation with someone who stutters.

    • Wait until they finish with what they wanted to say
    • Do not intentionally speak in an abrupt pattern to them (some people do this with good intention- they think this can help but unfortunately it can only make things worse)
    • Avoid completing their sentences
    • Avoid telling them to be calm or speak slowly because these advice can make them stutter more


  4. Support

    Your support does matter to them.  Show that you care by:

    • Be patient and be a good listener
    • Give continuous appraisal and encouragement  to them
    • Give them chance to improve their own speech fluency
    • Be open and accept them the way they are
    • Bring them for evaluation and treatment as early as possible
    • Respect them and let them know that you are supporting them

Situation 2 :

A: W….w….w…when are you g….g…..going to the g….g…g…grocery sh…sh….sh..shop?
B: In a minute, are you joining me?
A: ….I ….I…I think I am g….g….g…going but…..but…but..
B: (wait)
A: I..i..i.. I’m feeling t…t……t…tired. C…c….c..can y..you wait f..f…for a w….while?
B: (wait)
A: I ….. I …… I …… I’ll take 5, and we’ll go aaa.a..a..after that
B:  OK, no problem
A: OK (happy)

Situation 2 shows how a person waits for his friend who stutters to talk before he/she replies

So remember,

  • Understand their problem
  • Be a good listener
  • Be patient while you are having conversation with them
  • Support them


  1. Do’s and Don’ts when Speaking with Someone Who Stutters (n.d.) in The UMD Stuttering Home Page. Retrieved Spetember 3, 2012 from http://www.d.umn.edu/~cspiller/stutteringpage/do’s.htm
  2. Five Myths about stuttering (n.d.) in The stuttering foundation website. Retrieved September 4, 2012 from http://www.stutteringhelp.org/five-myths-about-stuttering
  3. How to talk to a person who stutter (n.d) In WikiHow. Retrieved September 5, 2012 from http://www.wikihow.com/Talk-With-a-Person-Who-Stutters
  4. Ratner, N. B. & Healey, E. C. (1999) Stuttering Research and Practice: Bridging the Gap.  Retrieved September 4, 2012 from http://www.books.google.com.my/books?isbn=0805824588
Last Reviewed : 9 March 2016
Writer / Translator : Rahimah bt. Yunus
Accreditor : Nur Fariha bt. Md Shah