Avoiding Interaction with People Because I Stutter

I spent my life avoiding new situations where I would have to interact with people. I wouldn’t go to new restaurants because I didn’t want to be faced with trying to say my order to the waiter. The small things that people take for granted – like talking on the telephone or answering questions — were hard for me because of my stuttering.

My speech not only inhibited my social life, it caused difficulties and embarrassment in my work as a trial court officer and when I helped with my family’s funeral home business.

I attended HCRI when I was young and didn’t keep up with the program or take it seriously. As I got older, I experienced even more difficulty with stuttering and decided to go back and attend the Hollins program again. This time I was more mature, applied the techniques I learned, and saw results. There was close to a 100 percent improvement in my communication.

The therapists at the institute worked with me one-on-one and made sure I fully understood what they were teaching. It was incredible how much time they spent with me. They wanted to ensure I fully understood what to do and why I needed to do it. While I still have my moments, my speech is more controllable now than it was before. Communicating is much easier and better. I am comfortable introducing myself, answering questions, and speaking in public. With HCRI, there’s a lot to it. You only get out of it what you put into it. I would recommend the program to everyone. Life for me has improved greatly.

Joe Szulewski
Massachusetts Trial Court Officer

The Tools and Techniques I Learned at Hollins Transformed My Life

Stuttering made me feel badly about myself and impacted all aspects of my life. I would go to great lengths to avoid situations where I would have to talk because I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

In spite of my speech issues, I went on to earn my Ph.D. and took a faculty position at a large university. Yet when I was teaching, sometimes my vocal chords would close up unexpectedly and I couldn’t talk.

At professional meetings, I would leave the room when it was time for everyone to introduce themselves for fear that I wouldn’t be able to say my name. At social gatherings, my husband did the talking for both of us. I felt it was a burden on him with my not being able to introduce myself or hold a conversation.

I almost turned down the presidency of a professional organization out of fear of giving the welcoming speech at meetings. I accepted the position and started a tradition of having the vice president give the opening remarks instead of me.

After years of avoiding situations that required me to speak, I learned about HCRI and participated in the program. It was intense work and I knew I would need to practice regularly once I left the institute. It took about a year until everything clicked and I had the confidence to speak fluently without visualizing each word in my head.

The tools and techniques I learned at Hollins transformed my life. Now I give speeches regularly and make “cold calls” asking people to support philanthropic causes. I’m also in charge of a major fundraising gala and am preparing to talk before 700 people.

I couldn’t have done any of this without Hollins. I would advise people who stutter to be kind to themselves. Attend HCRI, have faith in yourself and be patient. With dedicated effort and ongoing practice, the program will help you.

I am a stutterer and am always going to be a stutterer.

As a stutterer, I knew I had to work smarter and harder than fluent speakers to be successful in my career. That’s what led me to HCRI where I acquired the tools that enabled me to speak fluently.

With a continuing drive for excellence and my new-found communication abilities, I was able to excel through the ranks of a global corporation. I was told by H.R. that I would be appointed within a year as the new company G.M. Yet, when it came time for the board of directors to vote, they chose someone else to fill the position.

It was a tremendous blow – especially since I had turned down a lucrative job offer on the assurance that I was in line for the big job. As a result, I left the company and put my expertise and success strategies to work for another organization; this time an advertising agency.

One day, shortly after I left, I received a call from a board member from my former company. He was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and wanted to meet with me right away. In our conversation, he revealed that he had resigned because one board member convinced others that my stuttering was a symptom of mental illness and I could not be trusted to lead the company.

I was shocked by the news and resolved that day to prove my abilities by making my current company the best in the world. Fifteen years later, the organization rose to the top of the ad agency world and I had accomplished my goal.

I am a stutterer and am always going to be a stutterer. I am fluent most of the time because I practice each day the techniques I learned at HCRI. I believe the miracle is in each of us to succeed. We must use what we have.

Sander A. Flaum
Managing Partner & CEO
Flaum Partners

Chairman, Fordham Leadership Forum
Fordham Graduate School of Business

My Stuttering was Increasingly Interfering with Daily Tasks

Participating in the HCRI therapy program gave me more confidence and enabled me to take on leadership roles in my academic career that I never before would have considered.

When I was a teacher, I could control the environment in my classroom and create structure that helped with my speech. Yet, once I became a school administrator, things changed and my stuttering was increasingly interfering with daily tasks. I was not comfortable doing presentations, speaking up in meetings or talking on the telephone.

That’s when I decided to enroll in the HCRI program. The therapy was hard work. Yet, I learned how to control my stuttering. My fluency continued to improve with each day of treatment.

Since stuttering is a journey that continues through life, I realized when I returned home that I needed to regularly practice the breathing, articulating and other skills I learned at Hollins to maintain my fluency.

Soon after attending HCRI, I landed a new job with greater responsibility. With practice and smooth speech, I have more self-assurance than ever before and can comfortably talk in front of people whenever the need arises. Hollins provides a great program.

Anthony Sturges
Chief Operating Officer
Aurora Public Schools

Stuttering – Fear, Anxiety and Stress when I Need to Communicate.

While it was always a struggle, I never let my stuttering stop me as I went through school and started on my career path. Yet, I always felt like I paid a price for each of my accomplishments.  That price meant dealing with immense fear, anxiety and stress every time I needed to communicate.

When I started working after business school, I realized how important strong communication skills were to my future. To advance in my field, I needed to master public speaking and effortlessly give presentations, participate in meetings and talk on the phone.

Since childhood, I have participated in different types of speech therapy and even tried using a special device designed to help with stuttering.  None of the approaches helped with my fluency.

Then I was told about HCRI by a senior executive from my company who took a special interest in my career development. She knew of a colleague who had tremendous success with the Hollins program and put me in touch with him.  Soon thereafter, I went to Roanoke and participated in the program.  It was the first time any speech therapy had worked. At HCRI, I learned techniques and exercises that enabled me to speak fluently.

Since attending the program, my fear and anxiety from stuttering have been replaced with enjoyment and anticipation. I’ve advanced to a new position with my company and now look forward to presenting in front of groups and talking with business associates.

While I didn’t recognize doors being closed before I went to HCRI, now I definitely see them opening. Henry Kessler
Product Manager
Bristol-Myers Squibb

A Thank You To Hollins Communications Research Institute

It was so wonderful being able to talk fluently with my wife and kids after going through the HCRI program. For the first time in my life, I was able to use the exact words I wanted to say to my family at the moment I wanted to say them.

Before attending HCRI, communication with everyone – including family members — was a problem for me. I ridiculed myself for stuttering, and was always afraid of finding myself in a position of having to talk and not being able to do it.

I thank my wife for my attending the Hollins treatment program. She saw an article about HCRI and requested information. As an older participant, I found the therapy to be hard work. It was challenging to re-learn and practice how to speak. Yet, when I came home I was fluent. It lasted a few weeks and then my speech started to degrade. It was then that I realized that HCRI isn’t a magical pill for stuttering; rather, you have to practice on an ongoing basis to keep fluency.

The more I practiced and used the techniques I learned, the better I was able to converse and communicate. As a result, two years later I received a job promotion and was put in charge of a division with direct supervision of 20 people, where I was required to lead meetings and give presentations to upper management.

Now I hold a job with the U.S. State Department that requires me to travel internationally, hold meetings and give briefings. I don’t hesitate walking into a room where I don’t know anyone — and then giving a presentation. I actually enjoy it.

Frank Banks
Engineer
U.S. State Department