Don’t Hide Your Hearing Loss

If you weren’t born with hearing loss, developing it, later on, may be a blow. You might be scared or angry about the future. You may also develop strategies to live with it that you think are keeping your life the way it’s always been. In reality, though, you’re just making it harder for yourself.

One common tactic some people take is to try to hide their hearing loss as much as possible. They don’t speak up when they don’t understand something, preferring instead to smile and nod. We’ve all seen a variation of this play as a cliché in tv and movies. Someone is at a restaurant where they don’t understand the menu because it’s in a language foreign to them (usually French). So they order blindly and end up with a meal they find disgusting.

That’s an extreme version of what can happen to you when you just pretend to understand what people are telling or asking you. You can miss out on a lot. Maybe they’re telling you something for your safety, for example. Maybe they’re telling you the house is on fire or the boat is sinking. Maybe they’re just telling you the movie you want is sold out. Either way, you probably want to know that information.

So if you find yourself in situations like this, don’t hide your hearing loss. If you don’t understand someone, there’s no shame in asking them to help you. Perhaps they need to phrase it a different way. Perhaps you heard part of the statement. Tell them what you heard and they can help you with the rest. Maybe you need them to slow down or speak more clearly. Hearing loss is not that uncommon. Unless the person to whom you’re speaking has been very sheltered, they’ve likely met someone with hearing loss before. So a brief explanation from you–”I have hearing loss”–will not faze them, and they’ll likely be eager to help you understand. So don’t be afraid to help yourself.

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