Hearing loss is known as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or observe your hearing loss, and no one can feel your frustration and stress. The only thing someone can experience is their OWN frustration when they have to repeat themselves.
Regretfully, people with hearing loss infrequently get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is vital—both for gaining empathy and for participating in effective conversation.
Here are some tips you can use to let others know about your hearing loss.
Full disclosure of your hearing loss
Informing other people about your hearing loss might be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but in doing so you’ll prevent several other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and causing others to repeat themselves, for example, can produce situations that are much more uncomfortable.
When revealing your hearing loss, shoot for full disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please talk louder.” Rather, summarize your hearing loss and suggest ways the other person can best talk with you. For instance, you might say something like, “I’m partly deaf in my left ear due to an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help a lot.”
Suggest how others can best communicate with you
Once you disclose your hearing loss, other people will be less likely to become aggravated and more apt to make an effort to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication partners some tips for more effective communication, such as:
- Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t scream 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 shout.
Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will appreciate the honesty and tips, and you’ll avoid having to cope with communication problems after the fact.
Control your hearing environment
After fully disclosing your hearing loss and providing communication tips, the final consideration is the control of your surroundings. You’ll want to present yourself the best chance to listen and communicate clearly, and you can accomplish this by eliminating disruptions and background noise.
Here are a few guidelines:
- When eating out, find a quiet, tranquil restaurant and select a table away from the center of the restaurant.
- At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound coming from a television or radio.
- Find quiet areas for conversations.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to the host beforehand about special preparations.
Preparing in advance is your best bet. Approaching the host before the party will give you your best shot at effective communication. And the same can be applied to work; reserve some time with your manager to review the preparations that give you the best chance to realize success. They’ll appreciate the initiative.
Find professional help
When hearing loss begins to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s time to search for professional assistance. Modern hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their capacity to suppress background noise and enhance speech recognition, and they may be just what you need to enjoy a lively social life once again.