Talking about hearing loss isn't always the conversation topic of choice for those that are affected by it. Here are some tips on how to feel comfortable bringing up your hearing loss with others.
It’s not always easy to talk to the people in your life about your hearing loss
. Hearing loss can affect your relationships with everyone from co-workers to family members and friends. You might need to explain your hearing loss and needs to each group a little differently.
The Hearing Loss Association of America offers many tips on coping with hearing loss and talking with your family about it. In addition, here are some tips you may find helpful to ask your family and friends to follow:
Family and Friends
It’s likely that your family and friends were among the first to know about your hearing loss
— in fact, they may have been aware of it before you were.
That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy to talk to them about it, though. You may be embarrassed about your hearing loss or frustrated that you have to ask for help from those closest to you.
Open, direct communication about how your friends and family can help you hear better is important.
It is not about needing to be catered to or having your hand held. Just a few simple hearing-conscious choices will lead to reduced frustration and better relationships in the long run.
As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.”
- Make sure they have your attention: It’s much easier to follow along in a conversation if someone lets you know they’re speaking to you beforehand. It is easier to hop into a conversation when you know you're being spoken to.
- Repeating themselves: Let your family and friends know that if they feel unsure about whether you heard them the first time, to just repeat what they said. It'll keep you from having to say, "What?"
- Change your tone: When communicating, it's often been said that our tone-of-voice carries more meaning than the actual words said. Take extra time to pay attention to yours and others tone-of-voice.
- Add in body language: Body language helps create a level of context behind words. Make sure they face you when speaking if possible. It's much easier to engage in conversation if you can clearly see their lips while talking.
In the Workplace
Talking with your supervisor and co-workers about your hearing loss may bring some trepidation with it. You may be afraid that they will think your workplace performance is going to suffer or that your ability to do your job will be affected by your hearing loss. You may have similar concerns about interviewing for a new job as well.
In 2014, the Hearing Loss Association of America conducted a survey of workplace experiences among people with hearing loss. You may find it helpful to read about others’ stories as you determine the best way to address your hearing loss at work.
Try to focus on the positives. Explain to your supervisor and co-workers how you adapt to your hearing loss
and what devices you use to assist you. You might consider pointing out a time when your hearing aid
or other assistive device helped you to hear clearly and do your job well.
- Explain your type of hearing loss: Let your employer(s) and coworkers know about your hearing loss, more specifically the environments and levels of sound that you have added difficulty hearing in.
- Request the necessary assistance: Once you’ve explained how you can do your job well with a hearing loss, talk with your boss about what support you need, whether it’s a particular device, a desk closer to your employer, or if you prefer one-on-one conversations rather than large staff meetings.
- Know your employee rights: Many countries have laws that protect those with hearing loss from discrimination. You may also be entitled to additional accommodations to assist you in the workplace. Make sure to read up on these ahead of time and approach your needs in a non-threatening way so that you and your supervisor can work together proactively