It takes an average of ten years for a person to seek professional help after their first issue with hearing loss. Hearing aids have been proven to help dramatically, but it can still be difficult to hear in background noise–and there are a lot of people pretending to hear their friends in noisy restaurants around the world. If you have a hearing loss that you often hide from others, read on to find out why this is harmful, and how to break the habit.
Why we sometimes hide our hearing loss
- Wanting to fit in.
Everyone pretends to hear at times — deaf and hearing people alike. Think about being at a loud concert and running into an acquaintance in the audience. The small talk commences, but at some point, you lose the thread and start pretending to hear. Rather than asking your friend to repeat herself, you nod enthusiastically and say “yeah!” When you friend looks bewildered, you realize this is an inappropriate response and are forced to shyly admit you didn’t hear her. It’s happened to all of us.
Wanting to feel included in social situations is a deeply human reaction, and this can prevent you from revealing your hearing loss. But keeping it a secret while trying to keep up with conversation may create even more distance between you and your companions, while lessening your enjoyment of social occasions.
- The hearing aid taboo.
Because it is not always evident when a person suffers from hearing loss, it is called an invisible disability. And despite being incredibly common–hearing loss affects an average of 11 million people in the UK, across all age groups–many people still think of it as a problem of old age. This sometimes creates a sense of shame in young people with hearing loss, though it shouldn’t. As more and more celebrities become outspoken about their hearing loss, the taboo is becoming a thing of the past. Most recently, Coldplay singer Chris Martin admitted to suffering from tinnitus as he urged young music lovers to wear earplugs when attending gigs.
- Feeling unsure about when and how to bring it up.
It can feel too complex and challenging to insert your hearing loss into conversation, especially during the early, small talk phase of speaking to someone you’ve just met. But later in the conversation, after delaying bringing it up, it may seem too awkward to mention your hearing loss out of the blue. This never-the-right-time feeling combined with not quite being sure how to communicate your needs can be a roadblock to honesty when it comes to talking about your hearing loss.
- Fear of being treated differently.
In the workplace, at university, and in social realms, there is more pressure to succeed and appear to be “perfect” than ever before. In a world full of curated social media lives and photoshopped magazines, the desire to conform can be overwhelming, and to admit to having a physical difference, which could potentially cause people to treat you differently, may seem like a difficult task. It is no surprise that many people feel that hiding their hearing loss is the safest option.
Why you should break the habit
Learning to live with hearing loss is an ongoing journey and placing more trust in others by letting them know about your hearing difficulties will make that journey much less lonely.
In the workplace, pretending to understand something that you haven’t heard can seriously hurt your job performance, making it more challenging for you to get ahead. On the other hand, being upfront about your hearing loss and asking for the accommodations you need will actually boost your confidence, as you’ll be in the loop about everything you need to know.
There are so many benefits to admitting your hearing loss to those around you, but you may still find it uncomfortable or be unsure of what to say. In this case, it may help to prepare a script, something quick and simple that you can use in a number of different situations. Your script should mention your hearing loss, explain what hearing challenges you’re currently having, and suggest specific ways to help you hear better. For example, your script could be: “I have hearing loss, so I didn’t quite catch that. Could you rephrase what you just said?”
Armed with the right hearing aids, and an open, positive attitude about your hearing loss, you’ll see the roadblocks in your path falling away. Contact us at House of Hearing for a consultation.