The last time you couldn’t hear what someone said, how did you respond? Did you ask them to repeat themselves or did you pretend to hear? The problem with pretending to hear is that it sets you up for situations where you may respond inappropriately as you attempt to bluff. It can give the appearance to family, friends, and co-workers that you are disinterested or not paying attention. Over time, it can create serious rifts in your relationships and affect your performance at work.
Disclosure Methods to Discuss Hearing Loss
The alternative is to be open with the people in your life about your hearing loss. Hearing loss is an invisible disability but disclosing your hearing loss gives you a chance to explain your situation and even the best ways to communicate. There are many ways to disclose your hearing loss, and some are more effective than others. Here are a few types of disclosure and their effect on how you communicate clearly.
This type of disclosure is one in which information is barely disclosed at all. Disclosure is defined as “the action of making new or secret information known.” There are direct ways of doing this which are indirect, and these are defined as nondisclosure. For instance, asking someone to repeat themselves or asking them to speak up doesn’t directly address the issue, however, it does let people know you have some degree of hearing challenges, which requires them to modify their communication to you.
While non-disclosure seems like a fine method to communicate a hearing loss, there are reasons why it is not the most effective type of disclosure. For instance, it is normal for people even without hearing loss to need to have things repeated every now and then, so asking someone for clarification could be misinterpreted. This does not directly inform the people around you that you have a hearing loss, which means that it doesn’t give you a chance to let them know the best way to communicate with you. When a person you interact with regularly doesn’t know you have a hearing loss, that can’t help you to hear in the future, creating ongoing hearing challenges.
Another type of disclosure is “basic disclosure”. This is kind of like “stage one” of disclosure as it achieves the simple task of letting someone know that you have hearing loss. For instance, when speaking to people you can mention that you have trouble hearing in certain situations. In a crowded room you, or with certain speakers who have particularly high or low tones, sounds may be just out of reach for you.
Letting people know you have a hearing loss is an important step, but it’s only the first. The issue with basic disclosure is that simply knowing a person has hearing loss doesn’t give the people in your life strategies to help you hear better.
This third type of disclosure is most recommended for success in hearing in the future. Referred to as multipurpose disclosure, this type of disclosure lets the people know you have a hearing loss while suggesting strategies for helping you hear them better in the future. When you are intentional, this type of disclosure gets easier and easier, the more you practice it. For instance, you can let a person know you have trouble hearing them and ask them to speak slower, or come closer, so you can hear better.
Another example is that if you have trouble hearing in one ear, more than the other, suggest to someone that they speak into that ear. Because hearing loss is invisible, it is important to be vigilant about multipurpose disclosure. It allows more and more people to become used to those in their life with hearing loss. It also suggests ways that specifically help you to hear so you can continue to build lasting connections.
Treating Hearing Loss
Hearing loss starts in the ears, but when you are not consistent with multipurpose disclosure, you can create rifts in relationships which alienate you and make you more likely to self-isolate and suffer from chronic depression and underactivity over time. Be open about your hearing loss and admit you may need some help. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These tiny devices make it easier to hear the people and world around you. Make the leap towards clearer hearing and schedule a hearing test with us today!