When people know how do deal with hearing loss
Hearing loss can cause awkward situations, not just for the people with the hearing problem but for people communicating with them too.
For someone who has never had to talk to someone with a hearing loss before it can be difficult to know what to do. First of all they’ve got to realise that you have a hearing problem and then they’ve got to work out how to deal with that and they’re probably worried about making sure they don’t offend you by doing the wrong thing.
Over the years I’ve had people who have flat-out refused to repeat themselves, people who got angry when I repeatedly misheard, people who look away or cover their mouth when talking, people who shout something from distance and then walk off. But they’re pretty rare cases.
But what’s really refreshing is when someone just nails it and instinctively knows what to do. I was eating out at a busy restaurant a few weeks ago with a group of about 8 people. I could hear the people right next to me but not the others at the other end of the table. About half-way through the meal someone from the other end of the table asked me something, I had no idea they were even speaking to me but the guy next to me realised I hadn’t heard, leaned in and discreetly said, “Guy at the end is talking to you about football”. It’s usually only my close family who would step in like that, I was chuffed. Not only did he let me know I was being spoken to he also gave me a starter on the topic.
I realise though that a lot of the times when it doesn’t go so well as that and I don’t get help it’s mostly my fault as I don’t tell everyone about my hearing problem. If they don’t know then they probably think I’m just ignoring them or daydreaming or something. But I don’t want to introduce myself to everyone with, “Hi, I’m Steve, I don’t hear so well”. Where do you draw the line? I usually just let people know if it becomes a problem and I care enough about communicating with them to fix the problem.
How do you want people to react to your hearing loss? Do you want friends/family to nudge you and let you know you’ve missed something or do you keep it as hidden as possible? Do you tell everyone about your loss all the time? It’s a problem for all of us as hearing loss is invisible, the only immediate signal to someone is your hearing aids and they are getting smaller and smaller all the time – how, and when, do you let people know?