Your attention, please

One of the things about working in an office is that people are always coming and going, walking and talking. They have conversations just standing in the hall, as they walk up and down the stairs, and across desks and people.

Very often someone will be leaving our office area, and someone sitting will make a comment to them. It’s loud enough so that most others can hear it, but the person walking out (who it’s directed to) often does not. So they have to stop and ask, “what’s that?”

Since I stutter, this is pretty hard. I mean, if it’s me making the comment while sitting at my desk, it means that the words were spontaneous enough, were sufficiently given a breath of air, and sadly, are probably not going to come out like that again.

As soon as the person says, “what’s that?” then the focus is back on me. In an open room. And this person was walking out — so they’re in a hurry — and here I am holding things up.

I think what my strategy is going to be is to get their attention first. Or make sure I have it (eye contact or stand up, or … throw something at them) and then start talking. Or just avoid this type of interaction. Notice I didn’t say avoid talking. Just a certain type of conversation.


  1. Haha! Why does this sound so terribly familiar. Me being an architect, am worst affected by such situations in my office. The creative nature of our work makes it necessary to have an open office environment, one where there are constant interactions and discussions. You can just imagine what kind of an effect it has on my psyche. People who are full of opinions about ‘how to speak’ (take a deep breath before you speak, speak slowly and all that bullshit) are just so oblivious of such kind of situations.

    • Mohammad — what I didn’t talk about was having to also make phone calls in an open office! On the one hand it’s ok when there’s plenty of chatter so nobody is really paying attention to you stutter. But on the other, it’s hell when everybody is very quiet … and your phone rings!

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