In conversation with friends, you like to be polite. At work, you want to appear involved, even enthralled with what your supervisor/peers/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 little louder, please.
On conference calls you lean in closer. You pay attention to body language and facial cues and listen for verbal inflections. You read lips. And if that doesn’t work, you nod as if you heard every word.
Don’t fool yourself. You missed lots of the conversation, and you’re struggling to keep up. You may not recognize it, but years of progressive hearing loss can have you feeling cut off and discouraged, making projects at work and life at home needlessly overwhelming.
According to some studies, situational factors such as environmental acoustics, background noise, competing signals, and situational awareness have a major influence on how we hear. These factors are always in play, but they can be much worse for people who are suffering from hearing loss.
Watch out for these behaviors
There are certain tell-tale habits that will alert you to whether you’re in denial about how your hearing loss is impacting your professional life:
- Repeatedly needing to ask people to repeat themselves
- Pretending to understand, only to later ask others what you missed
- Finding it more difficult to hear phone conversations
- Having a difficult time hearing what others behind you are saying
- Cupping your hands over your ear or leaning in close to the person talking without noticing it
- Feeling as if people are mumbling and not speaking clearly
While it may feel like this crept up on you suddenly, chances are your hearing loss didn’t happen overnight. Acknowledging and getting help for hearing loss is something that takes most people at least 7 years.
This means that if your hearing loss is problematic now, it has probably been going unaddressed and untreated for some time. Begin by scheduling an appointment now, and stop fooling yourself, hearing loss is no joke.