Poor hearing is the root cause of many communications problems. How can we communicate effectively if we are only getting a small percentage of the message and misinterpret routinely? It is important to separate the cause of a problem from the affect. Those of us with a hearing problem feel that if people really want to communicate with us then they will speak clearly. People with normal hearing think we hear the same as they but we just don’t listen or pay attention. Both parties feel like the other just does not care or try hard enough to communicate. “I can hear you when you speak plainly and don’t whisper from another room!” Followed by, “You could hear me if you’d turn that #@** TV down and pay attention to me for once!” Everyone can get very frustrated.
Talk without shouting. Raised voices can cause a person to immediately become defensive. When in a protective mode, the hearing impaired may shut down emotions and stop listening. We may withdraw inside to get away from an unpleasant exchanges and confusing situations. It may cause us to have low self-esteem or to lash out in angry retaliation causing an escalation in the conflict. Plus, raising voices just enables us to put off the inevitable: Getting a Hearing Test.
Allow for flexibility. Remember, a hearing loss is isolating enough without the feeling of antagonism from family and friends. Allow us some room and at least the appearance that we’ve come to the same conclusion: To get a Hearing Test.
Most hearing losses come on so gradually that we do not notice missing things. To us it is that more people mumble not that we hear less. Convincing us that we have a hearing problem can be a monumental argument. But, getting us to a hearing test can be a far easier task. Let the hearing examiner be the bearer of the inevitable.
The children and I are going to get our hearing checked. Let’s go get a baseline test for our medical records. Can you go with us next Tuesday?
We don’t start ignoring you until it becomes a huge burden to try to sort out your message. It may seem to you like it may take a mediator to help remember the reason the relationship exists in the first place. Why bother to try to get us to help. But once a hearing loss is identified professionally then everyone will have to learn skills to improve the communication process. In any relationship, both parties have a stake in the outcome of the relationship. Some behavior may be learned as a result of the stress and results in habits that need to be retrained. Early detection and treatment of a hearing loss by a trained professional will result in a happier life and higher quality of life.