Disclosing things about ourselves can be an uncomfortable, even anxiety-producing process. Without knowing how others will receive what we have to tell them, we can fear becoming vulnerable. Although our friends and family members might be our closest relationships, sometimes we also fear what they will think about us, as well. Disclosing personal details to these close people in our lives can feel like the most significant risk. Did you know that revealing hearing loss is essential to building strong relationships?
Although it might feel uncomfortable to talk with others about hearing loss, letting them know about your condition is a way to connect and build a better bond. When you disclose hearing loss, however, each way of talking about hearing loss is not the same. Two features of the disclosure go hand in hand. First, you need to make sure others know that hearing loss is an ongoing condition for you. Second, they need to know how to help you communicate in ways that can become ongoing habits. These two disclosure features work together to help you communicate more clearly, yet many people miss one piece or the other. Let’s look at some examples of each of these, keeping in mind why it is necessary to practice multipurpose disclosure.
The first way that people talk about hearing loss is not a form of disclosure at all. They simply ask for help with communication without admitting that hearing loss is an ongoing issue. Phrases like “What was that?” “Come again,” and “Can you speak up?” are ways to prompt people to help you hear what they said, but they might well think the problem was a noisy room or the softness of their voice. Without knowing that hearing loss is an ongoing condition, these people will likely speak in the same way next time, unable to know how to best accommodate your needs.
The second way people talk about hearing loss is simply to disclose the condition to others. Without following up to suggest a way that others can help, they may feel confused and helpless to make things easier. A basic disclosure is successful at establishing that hearing loss is an ongoing issue, but it doesn’t go to the next step to make a plan for future communication. Some people will even try accommodation strategies that aren’t helpful at all. They may speak slowly or simplify their language as if you aren’t able to cognitively process what they have to say, but these tactics are unlikely to help you hear.
The best approach to talking about hearing loss includes features of each of these. In the first place, it is important to simply let others know that you have hearing loss. This admission lets them know that communication is an ongoing issue and that it’s not just that the room is noisy, that you weren’t paying attention, or that they are mumbling. The next step is to ask for a concrete approach to accommodation. If you let someone know that you’d like them to speak up, then you will be better equipped the next time around. Perhaps you have one ear that hears better than the other. You can ask the person to try to stand on that side of you. You might even need to ask others not to call out from another room where you can’t see them speaking. Combining visual and auditory information is very helpful, and they are better able to help you when they know what they can do.
With a little practice, you will find that multipurpose disclosure is not scary or uncomfortable at all. On the contrary, people are at ease when they not only understand why you aren’t able to hear but also know what they can do to help. Putting together your disclosure into a clear statement about your condition and your needs can make you and your loved ones much more comfortable and optimistic about future conversation, but seeking treatment for hearing loss is the only durable solution for your ongoing needs. Make your appointment today with our team to find the solutions best suited to your individual needs!