In conversation with friends, you want to be polite. At work, you want to appear engaged, even enthralled with what your supervisor/co-worker/customers are saying. With family, you may find it easier to simply tune out the conversation and ask the person near you to fill in what you missed, just a bit louder, please.
On zoom calls you move in closer. You look closely at body language and facial clues and listen for verbal inflections. You try to read people’s lips. And if all else fails – you fake it.
Don’t fool yourself. You’re straining to keep up because you missed most of what was said. You may not realize it, but years of cumulative hearing loss can have you feeling isolated and discouraged, making tasks at work and life at home needlessly overwhelming.
Some research shows that situational factors including room acoustics, background noise, competing signals, and situational awareness have a strong influence on how we hear. These factors are always in play, but they can be a lot more extreme for individuals who are suffering from hearing loss.
Watch out for these behaviors
Here are a few habits to help you determine whether you are, in truth, convincing yourself that your hearing impairment isn’t affecting your professional and social relationships, or whether it’s just the acoustics in the environment:
- Asking others what you missed after pretending you heard what they were saying
- Not able to hear people talking from behind you
- Cupping your ear with your hand or leaning in close to the person talking without realizing it
- Repeatedly having to ask people to repeat what they said
- Thinking others aren’t speaking clearly when all you seem to hear is mumbling
- Missing important parts of phone conversations
While it might feel like this crept up on you suddenly, chances are your hearing impairment didn’t happen overnight. Most people wait an average of 7 years before accepting the problem and finding help.
This means that if your hearing loss is problematic now, it has most likely been going unaddressed and neglected for some time. Begin by making an appointment now, and stop kidding yourself, hearing loss is no joke.