Words & Banter

Listen To This Stutter!


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You know how I like to blah-blah-blah, barely letting anyone get a word in edgewise?


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Is this a rhetorical question? Or, a trick question?


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Neither, I leave those to you. And, you know how things happen to us that seem accidental but probably aren’t coincidences?


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Is there a point to these questions? If so, can you please get to it?


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As you often tell me, “Patience, grasshopper.” Although I know that’s not your strong suit. Especially not in conversations. Anyway, the other day you sent me a video about stutterers. Well, that same day, I happened to speak to someone who stuttered, and it was just what I needed.


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The video? Or, the conversation?

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The conversation. It happened before you sent the video. As you know, we weren’t sure the buyers of Mom’s house wanted the 22-foot shuffleboard table in the second-floor game room. And since it’s a solid piece of, well, whatever the board’s made of, it’d have to be broken down to get it out of the house since the original homeowners probably brought it in through the windows while the house was still being built.

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I know the story. But, I am running out of patience with your blah-blah-blah. Can you get to the point?

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I’ll try, but sometimes the details are important. Anyway, I was pretty stressed about finding someone who could remove the shuffleboard, especially since we only had a few days to pull this off. So, I was excited when I found LoadUp, a company that professionally disposes of your old items, but imagine how I felt when the person who answered the phone stuttered. I was not in a patient mood.

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Oh, I can only imagine. Normally, you would have been patient and understanding, but getting Mom’s house emptied has been overwhelming and emotional for you.

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There’s an understatement, but something remarkable happened during that call. I went from being incredibly stressed out to being calm and in a good mood. Because as soon as I heard his stutter, I forced myself to “slow down” and just listen.

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I will not get into the power of active listening, but by focusing on what he was saying, that was an escape, albeit very brief, from everything going on in your mind.

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Besides him being highly professional and knowledgeable, he was extremely nice and understood my “disposal” dilemma. I only wish he could’ve seen me as I went from being a woman bouncing off the walls to someone in a much better mood, all because, ironically, of his stutter!

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I am certain he could hear it in the tone of your voice. Regardless, as the video points out, the problem is not with the person who stutters; it is with the listener.

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Which makes sense. And even though you commented the video was a great piece and worth the time to watch, I only did so a few days ago. And I agree. But you also mentioned I should remind you to tell me about the Make-A-Wish interviewer who stuttered.

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It was exactly one week before your conversation with the man who stuttered. I arrived for the building dedication interview and was introduced to the two-man film crew – an interviewer and a camera operator. I noticed that one man stuttered, so I assumed he was the camera operator. Imagine my surprise when I found out I had guessed wrong.


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I’m sure you were great. You don’t tolerate fools well, but you’re very empathic with people who have genuine issues.


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Perhaps. But, I also have been known to finish people’s sentences or interrupt them when it is obvious where they are going, and I want the conversation to move along quicker.


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I think we’ve already established you’re impatient.


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Point made. But, just as you learned allowing yourself to genuinely listen not only allowed you to connect better with him but also to stop and catch your breath, I realized that allowing the interviewer to ask his questions at his pace allowed me to think about what he was saying and carefully prepare my answer. That it was not a race to the finish.


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So, does that mean you will start being more patient with me? And become a better listener?


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Doubtful; however, I wonder if people who stutter do a better job of getting to the point and actually are more succinct speakers.


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You would …
Check out this list of famous and gifted people that didn’t let stuttering get in their way!
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As you know, I love history, but I appreciate many people don’t.


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I am one of those people, so not sure where you are going with this.


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Exactly. So, when you first wanted to talk to me about the history of credit cards, I should have known something was up.


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Or, at least been curious.


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How was I supposed to know it would make a difference in my life?


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Why else would I want to give you a “history lesson”?
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Photo by mevans on iStock
Let’s be very clear. Autism has no correlation with intelligence; it’s a developmental disability (or what Black refers to as “DIFF-abilities”). And it’s a spectrum disorder, which means each autistic person has their unique mix of abilities, challenges, and ways of seeing the world (can’t that be said of all of us?!) So, as we celebrate World Autism Acceptance Week, remember it’s more than just awareness – it’s about acceptance.

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Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


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Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


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Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


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I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


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Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


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Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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