shalom goodman interview
27 May 2016

Three Lessons I’ve Learned in Life from Having a Stutter


Who Said Having a Stutter Stops you from Being Awesome?

Someone I consider a surrogate nephew is one super awesome guy. Trust – you want to know him. He also happens to be a stutter. Over almost two decades I’ve watched and listened to Shalom Goodman work on his speech. His parents are off the charts people and I know they’re the roots and support of the incredible progress he’s made. From the time his mom found him a new speech therapist, Shalom’s called to “practice his speech” as he says. With the progress he’s been making, I asked him to write a guest blog post. And then we did two video interviews. I know you’ll love learning from Shalom as he’s found his voice! (If you have a special story, message or gift you’d like to share with the Kabbalah Coach Community, contact us here.)

Shalom GoodmanI invite you all to entertain the following possibility: What would it feel like to know exactly what you have to say, your listener waiting patiently to hear you speak, but you simple cannot…Get. The. Words. Out.

As someone with a severe stutter, this is what I face every waking moment of every day. It is a battle which I take pride in. It is an obstacle that has taught me things about myself I would otherwise never have discovered. Much of what I have to share with the world would be unknown to me if I had been born a smooth and fluid speaker.

There are three distinct traits that stuttering has taught me which I feel add value to anyone’s life, stutterer or not. Let me share them with you. Perhaps you will find value in them too.

Lesson 1: Listening

Stuttering has given me the great ability to listen to the person whom I am conversing with.  I know exactly how it feels to be speaking to someone with the person looking directly at me, having their attention aimed at me and yet not listening – their minds are somewhere else.  They get distracted by my speech – or lack of it. Whether they are too disturbed by my stutter or by anticipating the word that won’t come out (thus “helping me” by saying it) they’re not fully present to me and what I have to say.  Interruptions and loss of eye contact ensue. The conversation has been disrupted.

In order to be a good listener, one has to listen unequivocally. Here are some pointers:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Do not interrupt and anticipate the speakers coming words even if you think it will help them.
  • Just be there and be present, listening to the message the speaker is trying to convey. When you listen without distraction, you can really connect to what the speaker is trying to give over.
  • Respond only once you see that they have finished

There you have it. The gist of being a good listener.

Lesson 2: Resilience

Having been hung up on while making a call, being made fun of for speaking in an unfamiliar way, or having a friend speak on my behalf are all par for the course for stutterers. All this has naturally had an effect on me.  To be able to withstand that hardship and not let it define you takes great will and vigor.  To keep at it, to continue engaging with the world, speaking to anyone you’d like to, stutter or not, builds strength in you that is very deep and truly lasting.

There are situations in life which overwhelm each of us. There are times when you are intimidated and made to doubt your ability to accomplish a goal, big or small.  We need to remember that we can do whatever we put our mind to, and that people respect others who overcome their challenges. To be mindful of our hardships, and despite it all to continue on our path is what will lead to great things.

Lesson 3: Bring out the best in others

Stuttering has made me someone unique. When I converse with someone, the listener has the ability to pay closer attention to me and my message and it encourages them to have patience in allowing me to get the words out. Not many people when asked their name take thirty seconds to get out that one (or two) seemingly simple words to utter.  When you meet me and hear my name (after a struggle) you’ll remember the name Shalom Goodman because you don’t want to ask it again and be on the receiving end of another uncomfortable thirty seconds of silence while I try to get my name out. Secondly and more importantly, one doesn’t forget an experience like that.

I work at not wearing my speech challenge, not leading with it. But regardless, it makes me memorable. I hope it is the way I approach my challenge that is the most memorable.

All of us have something that is distinctly unique.  You need to find your special qualities that have people who have met you, come away thinking things like, “Wow, that person was fascinating” or “What a special soul”.  When you’re able to convey your inner unique self, you and that experience become memorable to the other person. It allows you to forge a deep and meaningful relationship. At this point in my journey, the struggle is to refrain from using my stutter as my ‘Unique Trait’ and to allow people to see the other attributes which make me distinct. This is a wonderful technique which allows me to continue working on gaining added fluency.

Each one of us has our struggles, our stutters in life, those things that we think impede our ability to reach greater heights. The goal is to remember that strength and beauty are in the struggle, in overcoming hardships and in being open to people about your struggle. When I meet someone, I try telling them, “I’ve got a stutter, would you mind if I use a technique to help myself speak more smoothly.”  Just in those few words, I show them that I have something I’m working on and that they can help me in working on it too. Try that for yourself. Put the challenge up front so that you can put it aside from the start.

I hope this story of my struggle and the strength it has given me can add value and guidance to your life as well.  We are in this journey of life together. With resilience, and kindness and an honest ear, we can add light to our everyday.

Shalom Goodman

The Videos of our Interview

A Stutterer Speaks Out

In this interview Shalom shares his three lessons for life from having grown up with a speech opportunity.

Discover the World of Shalom Goodman

In this longer interview, Shalom shares about his life and experiences, the support of his family, his speech therapist and more along with his unique brand of wisdom, humor and depth.


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