Have you ever been telling a story and before you get to the main point the person you’re telling asks “What did you say?”
When this happens you may be tempted to sigh and say “Never mind,” because you don’t want to start over and you may think they aren’t really listening to what you are saying anyway.
The problem with saying “Never mind” to someone who has hearing loss is that they really are trying to understand what you are saying, and when you dismiss them… it hurts.
Another situation might be in a group when a joke is told, everyone is laughing, but one person didn’t hear it so they feel left out. They may not say anything, or they may ask what was funny… this is another situation where someone who has difficulty hearing may be dismissed or excluded from what is happening.
Let’s Help Each Other
The problem in this scenario is miscommunication. We think we have adequately communicated so if the person didn’t hear it, they aren’t paying attention. But when we dismiss them and say “Never mind” they are frustrated because they are paying attention and want to hear the story, but they just missed a detail in there somewhere. They want to make sense of what you are telling them, so they ask you to repeat yourself.
So next time you are speaking to someone who has shown signs that they may have difficulty hearing, try to speak slowly and clearly, and when they ask you to repeat yourself don’t get frustrated or give up on them. Ask them which part they are confused about—you don’t have to start at the beginning!
If you are feeling rushed, let them know you will continue the conversation later, instead of dismissing them.
If You Are the One Listening…
If you are communicating with someone and they dismiss you, don’t let it go. Speak up, and tell them you really are listening and just have a bit of trouble hearing, and repeat back the last thing they said before you got confused. If they don’t think they have to start at the beginning they will probably be happy to repeat or clarify the last bit.
What Can the Listener Do?
Hearing loss causes many such difficulties in communication and social interactions, so what can you do if you feel your hearing is slipping?
- Hearing Aids. Hearing aids are a helpful tool to potentially restore the gap between what you are hearing and what you are missing. While it may not do everything you need, it will amplify sound, and you can further strengthen your listening skills with therapies and exercises. Ask your audiologist how you can pro-actively improve your listening skills and prevent any further hearing loss.
- Brain Training. A few things that can help train our brains to actively listen are watching TV with closed captions, reading along with audiobooks, or reading along with a friend or family member as they read a book or magazine aloud. To make it even more challenging, try these exercises with some background noise like a TV or conversation to train your brain to focus in on the sounds you want to hear.
- Get Examined. Your audiologist offers annual hearing exams so you can stay on top of your hearing situation and address it before you even notice there is a problem. The best thing you can do for your hearing is keep those yearly exams! They are quick, painless and so useful for having a baseline to compare your hearing in future years.
The first step to improving your listening skills is to recognize the issue. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon CA94583 (925) 394-4646