If you’ve had hearing aids for a while your family has figured out how they need to communicate with you if they want to be heard. Communication is a two-way street. Just because you have hearing aids doesn’t mean you have perfect hearing, so your family has made adjustments in order to make conversations go smoothly. In order to effectively communicate with hearing loss in the workplace your co-workers will have to do the same.
There is no point in trying to hide your hearing loss; it will only make things more difficult. A Better Hearing Institute study found that people with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in income annually. You’ve chosen to get hearing aids to mitigate that, now don’t lie and fake that you can hear perfectly. Limiting you ability to communicate effectively will lessen productivity and lead to fatigue and stress.
Own your hearing loss
Be upfront with your co-workers, they likely just need some help understanding your needs. Start by explaining that while your hearing aid does work wonders it doesn’t help you in every situation, particularly those with background noise or multiple speakers. Give them examples of situations where you encounter this, like the weekly staff meeting. Then explain how they can help by getting in your line of sight or making eye contact. Remember to clarify that it is not an issue of volume. Enunciation is important, but they do not need to shout at you. Ask that they come talk to you in person rather than dial your extension. When they are standing in front of you, you can use context clues or read their lips if you’re still struggling to make out what they’re saying.
Above all, ask them to be patient. You hate asking them to repeat as much as they hate repeating, but sometimes it has to be done.
More than likely your co-workers will be happy to oblige. After all, it will make their lives easier too when you can communicate effectively. It’s not realistic for you to expect them to accommodate you 100% of the time. But letting them know how to communicate with you more easily can alleviate a lot frustration.