I’ve had a stutter my whole life. My earliest memory of it affecting me was when I was about four years old, and I had to introduce myself to the class. When I stood up, a feeling of dread and fear came over me, and I struggled to say anything.

Throughout my life, I’ve never let my stutter hold me back. My friends and family have always been incredibly supportive and always encouraged me. But that doesn’t mean living with a stutter has always been easy.

The first major impact my stutter had on my life was back in 2014. I was just starting my career, and my job involved a lot of phone calls and attending meetings. On one occasion whilst on the phone, the office went unusually quiet. The same feelings of dread and fear came back to me, and I was petrified someone would overhear me struggling to speak. Five minutes into the phone call, I managed to say about two or three words.

I was feeling so frustrated, it was at this moment when I decided that I would either have to quit my job and change my career, or I can face my stutter head on.

By this time, I’d already been on a few speech courses, including private and NHS ones, but nothing really worked or clicked for me. Eventually, in 2015 I came across the McGuire programme, where they explained that my stutter doesn’t have to negatively impact my life. They helped me learn to accept that I’ll always have to work hard on my speech, but it should never rule my life or stop me from achieving anything.

Through the programme, I was taught to fight my stutter head on and I was encouraged to continuously push myself out of my comfort zone. However, in work, it can be especially challenging for me to practise some of the techniques I’ve learnt. I want to come across as competent, quick and sharp, but I used to worry that people will think less of me, or that I might not be up to the job.

However, Co-op and my manager were incredibly supportive of me and my journey. My manager asked me lots of questions about how she can help. From there, she asked me to share my story with our team, about the techniques that I’ve learnt and how they can all help and support me.

Just recently, on one of the McGuire courses, I was challenged to speak to over 200 members of the public and deliver a speech, using words and sounds I personally find difficult to say. I’m proud that I was finally able to do this in Newcastle city centre on 15 February.

Over the past five years, I’ve continuously pushed myself to gain greater control over my stutter. I’m open and honest with everyone I meet, and often it opens the door for conversation. I continue to push my comfort zone in everyday life, which has led me to be involved in many situations I never dreamt of, including joining Toastmasters! And the more I talk about it, the more in control I am of my stutter.

If you know anyone with a stutter, I’d say allow them to take the time to say what they need. Encourage open environments where people can be themselves and ask questions to see if there’s any way you can help them. And if you’re going through anything similar, try to  put yourself in uncomfortable situations, as I believe if something doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

My journey with my stutter is a lifelong one with no real finish line. But I’m incredibly proud of how far I have come, and I’m no longer afraid of letting my voice be heard.

Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. Credit to you Dan for writing this and for overcoming this daily. Inspirational

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  2. Brilliant. As a stutterer working in a customer contact center I feel you. There are bad days when the anxiety increases and making me keep quiet among colleagues.

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  3. Dan, this is amazing! Well done!

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  4. Well Done Dan, thanks for sharing your story.

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  5. I have seen such a change in you over the last year – you should be so proud!

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  6. Amazing, Dan! Well done, mate

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  7. Daniel, thank you so much for sharing your story and HUGE congratulations in facing your fears and delivering your speech in Newcastle…I have incredible respect for you, your resilience and tenacity. Helen

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  8. Wow. Dan – Your drive to challenge yourself is incredible and such powerful words! I loved your comments about doing things that make us uncomfortable and take us out of our comfort zones – such inspirational words and so very true. Good Luck in all that you do – such a great role model.

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  9. I can relate to your experiences and find your story so inspiring.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  10. I love to hear wonderful stories like this. My brother, a highly intelligent guy, suffered with a severe stammer when we were younger. He would always look to me to help finish his sentences. I remember people used to hang up on phone calls because he would struggle to get the words out. It used to make me so angry.
    He has come a long way since then and I’m so proud of the way he has tackled his issues.
    Good for you Daniel, keep addressing this issue the way you are. You will give a lot of people strength.

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  11. Brilliant – well done you. And thanks so much for sharing such an inspirational story

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  12. I have had a similar journey, though mine was filled with a lot of bullying at school and also at Royal Mail during my 23 years service. Thankfully my life changed in 2002 when i was medically retired due to a back injury, and after 8 months out of work i was taken on by the CIS. The culture here, and the good friends i have made over the last 17 years has enabled me to improve my speech, i still stammer at times, but my speech is 99% better than it was when i left Royal Mail.
    It is a pity that i stayed at Royal Mail so long, but when you keep getting put down, after awhile you come to believe the bullies, and lose self confidence in yourself.

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  13. A super story! Thank you for sharing this with us, Daniel.

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  14. What a wonderful story and thanks for sharing with us.

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  15. Wow, just wow. What an inspiration and thank you for sharing

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  16. Well done, Daniel. I, too, had a stutter and I well remember going to the sweet shop and coming out with something else because I couldn’t say what I really wanted.
    I tackled it head on as a teenager but it was a really difficult journey.
    During my time as an elected member I had to address AGMs and I was also the branch secretary of my union which often involved addressing public meetings. It was always difficult and I had to be fully on top of my brief to get through it.
    But it is possible to come out the other end in one piece so, once again, well done and best wishes for the future.

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  17. That is amazing…what a brilliant, inspirational story…well done!

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  18. Such an inspirational blog. Thank you for sharing this with us Daniel. All of us have challenges to overcome in work and in life generally. Hearing your story will encourage so many people to realise that nothing is insurmountable. Your are clear testimony of what being Co-op is all about. Thankyou again

    Reply
  19. Daniel,

    I have a stutter also and I dread it when I get nervous but your article has helped

    Reply
  20. Brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing your journey, with many parallels for those life difficulties we all have. Very educational.

    Reply

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