Hearing loss is commonly called the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or observe your hearing loss, and no one can experience your frustration and stress. The only thing someone can experience is their OWN frustration when they have to constantly repeat themselves.
Regretfully, those with hearing loss infrequently get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why disclosing your hearing loss to others is critical—both for earning empathy and for engaging in effective conversation.
Here are a few tips you can use to let others know about your hearing loss.
Full disclosure of your hearing loss
Informing others about your hearing loss might be awkward or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll escape several other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and requiring others to repeat themselves, for example, can result in situations that are much more uncomfortable.
When revealing your hearing loss, strive for full disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please talk louder.” Instead, explain your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best converse with you. As an example, you might say something like, “I’m partially deaf in my left ear because of an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help a great deal.”
Provide others with communication tips
Once you divulge your hearing loss, others will be much less likely to become frustrated and more apt to make an effort to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication companions some suggestions for more effective communication, such as:
- Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t yell across the room or from another room.
- Face-to-face communication is critical; visual cues and lip-reading help me understand speech without straining.
- Get my attention before speaking with me.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to yell.
Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will appreciate the honesty and pointers, and you’ll avoid having to deal with communication problems after the fact.
Control your hearing environment
After completely disclosing your hearing loss and supplying communication guidelines, the final consideration is the management of your surroundings. You want to present yourself the best opportunity to hear and communicate clearly, and you can achieve this by reducing distractions and background noise.
Here are a few tips:
- When eating out, go with a quiet, tranquil restaurant and select a booth away from the center of the restaurant.
- At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound emanating from a television or radio.
- Locate quiet areas for conversations.
- Don’t be hesitant to speak to the host beforehand about special preparations.
Planning ahead is your best option. Approaching the host before the event will give you your best shot at effective communication. And the same tips pertains to work; set aside some time with your boss to review the preparations that give you the best chance to realize success. Your supervisor will likely appreciate the initiative.
Seek out professional help
When hearing loss starts to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s about time to search for professional assistance. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their ability to filter background noise and enhance speech recognition, and they may be exactly what you need to take pleasure in a lively social life once again.