Report on Terry Gillen's workshop at our 2002 conference
People who stammer have no special claim to finding job interviews stressful. However, there are some techniques that can be of particular help where stammering is concerned. One of these, called 'reframing', was discussed in a workshop by communications trainer and author Terry Gillen. Reframing is a mental process of creating a more positive approach to a situation. Terry gave an example of how an IT expert asked him for advice on getting an important new job.
"The job was a career, and life changing opportunity. He wanted it badly. So badly, he felt nervous every time he thought about it and knew that being nervous would spoil his chances of performing well. I asked him how he would feel if, instead of being invited for a job interview, he was being asked for his advice as an eminent IT consultant. He replied that he would feel calm, relaxed, even honoured. I suggested, therefore, that he approach the interview as if he was there to help them as a consultant. In his own mind, he could feel in charge of the discussion, asking them to describe their situation and how they felt his expertise and experience could help. In response to what they said he could offer them his suggestions as if he was a respected consultant. In this way, they would benefit from the interview and recognise his ability while he, in turn, would stay relaxed, his ability would 'shine' and he would distinguish himself from the other interviewees who would simply be trying to sell themselves."
By 'reframing' the experience, the consultant took an active part in creating the experience he wanted. The key to making reframing work is to practice it mentally, several times a day, for a few days before the interview.
"When you know a tricky situation is coming, rehearse it in your mind going exactly the way you want it to go and keep rehearsing it until both the image and the feelings are consistently positive. It won't guarantee success but it will give you a sporting chance," he said.
An important way of taking more control over an interview, and raising the issue of stammering, is to ask about the organisation's diversity policy.
"Diversity is company policy in many organisations these days not just to avoid discrimination but to ensure fresh thinking, creativity and 'richness'. So why not ask them about their approach to diversity - how many of their managers are from ethnic minorities or are people with disabilities?"
From the Winter 2002 edition of Speaking Out