The most challenging thing about hearing loss is not having it, but telling others about it.
Many people aren’t comfortable in putting out personal health issues for public knowledge. They consider their hearing loss to be on a needs-to-know basis. This is understandable from a privacy point of view, but not all health issues should be kept under wraps. Hearing loss affects our ability to communicate with others and communication is a two-way street. A hearing loss affects everyone in a communication network.
Hearing loss no longer carries the stigma of ‘being old’ or ‘mentally deficient’. People of all ages are developing hearing loss for a variety of reasons and hearing loss and mental health issues are not necessarily synonymous. Admitting a hearing loss is not a shocking thing anymore and most people, upon hearing the news, won’t make assumptions about the state of your mental health.
Admitting Hearing Loss to Others
Chances are that if you have hearing loss, your nearest and dearest already know. They may have been the first to know, even before you. Our family and friends notice when we start asking for repeats, or lean forward to catch what people are saying, or we don’t respond to certain sounds.
So, when you finally admit your hearing difficulties and tell them you are seeking support by having your hearing tested and possibly getting hearing aids, they will applaud. Their lives will become easier when you can hear better.
But telling strangers, or anyone beyond our inner circle, can be challenging at first. We don’t like admitting our weaknesses or our need for help and, phrased that way, it does make us sound needy. There’s another way.
First, it’s important to understand that we are not alone in our hearing loss. Second, there is no shame in having it. Third, we have every right to be included and to ask for repeats or accommodations. Fourth, by taking charge and showing a positive attitude, we will make others feel comfortable and included as well. It tells people that we care about good communication.
I have hearing loss; would you mind facing me when you speak?
I didn’t catch that – please repeat what you said.
It’s very noisy here and I find it difficult to follow this conversation. Let’s move to a quieter spot.
I have hearing loss; would you mind wearing this transmitter when you give your talk. It brings your voice right into my ears.
None of these sample statements show weakness. On the contrary, they show a positive, solutions-focused person. And the even better news, is that 9 out of 10 times, people respond positively and may even mention their own hearing loss – it’s that prevalent! And for that 10 th person who may show impatience or an inability to comply – they might be having a bad day or they simply might not be worth talking to!
Let other people know about your hearing loss – both in general and when you find yourself in a difficult listening situation. Life will be better.