Rude or just can’t hear?

Posted by joangela @joangela, Sat, Sep 28 6:11am

How many of you can identify with this? Do the hearing people think you are just being rude by not openly talking to them or are they thinking that you possibly cannot hear them?
There are many times when I feel that they may be thinking the former. My entire family is from the hearing world, and actually for half my life I could hear good enough to say I am from the hearing world. I was extremely social and I actually had my own business where I did all the sales. I was good at it.
Now, I find myself having to retreat and not be part of the conversation, or very limited involvement. I find that people don’t talk to me very much, and direct their questions or comments to the person next to me.
How do you work through things like this and rise above hurt feelings. What are ways to make them not think you are just being rude? Do you just come out and tell them of your hearing loss?

We are labelled rude when we cannot hear. This is why its important to let those around you know that its a hearing issue. I go to a health club and when I'm getting ready to take a shower or go into the pool or steamroom, I remove my hearing aids. My loss is severe-profound so I don't hear much without hearing aids. I returned to my locker and there was a guy that said something to me. When I didn't answer, he made a comment "okay, don't be sociable" or something like that. I heard nothing but another guy that knows me told the person "he cannot hear". The guy felt bad so most people do not consider a hearing loss before jumping to conclusions. I talked to the guy after I put my aids in. I felt that I've educated one more person so he will now say "he cannot hear" when it happens again, because it will.

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I think you're talking to me. My wife tells me I'm unfriendly and/or unsociable. Because I can't understand speech very well I don't initiate conversations especially in a crowd or noisy place. I can tell by the look on peoples faces that I have given a goofy reply when I guessed at what was said and got it wrong. I have been in conversations and doing OK when multiple people start talking at once which makes hearing impossible for me to understand. When I leave the group I'm judged to be unsociable. I tend to be quiet because I find that the more I talk the more people assume I can understand them which is not the case.

Also it takes me some extra time to process what was said so I'm often slow to respond. That slight gap is time enough for someone else to start talking and then I'm out of the conversation – again.

My hearing is pretty good at low frequencies (below 1000hz) and my loss is profound at higher frequencies. My audiogram looks more like a right angle than a curve. That means I can hear noise well and can't understand speech. Very often when I'm driving alone or in some other noisy environmentI turn my hearing aids off because the noise is so irritating. Trying to understand speech is very hard and causes stress so I may turn my hearing aids off then too and enjoy the quiet. Then if someone starts talking to me I'm 3 sentences behind by the time I get them turned back on.

I often use gestures and facial expressions to let people know I can't understand them without interrupting them while they are talking. Because I have begun learning ASL which is a very animated and uses facial expressions a lot I find that sort of natural. It is fairly easy to understand even for folks who don't know any ASL. I often to tell people I can't hear them repeatedly unless it is someone who knows me. People always assume other people can hear AND understand.

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Not very many people actually "get" it. The work group I chair has about 10 people who attend regularly. Of those, one is always very considerate about making certain that I'm able to understand what he says. If he wants to discuss something during a break, he makes a point of moving away from the group, even saying, "it's really loud, so let's go over here to talk about that." A second person understands and asks how I'm doing with the battle to hear…but he doesn't face me when he speaks and seems disappointed that I obviously haven't heard half of what he's said. Another person is very heavy so can't walk or move well, expects everyone to get things for her because she's handicapped…but she gets angry if I don't respond to something she says when I can't see her. She often remains in her chair while I'm packing up the snacks I provide, usually talking about how people don't respect her needs…while I can't hear most of what she's saying, which is kind of funny, if I can get a grip on it! The sweet gal who helps me pack bread into freezers every week definitely doesn't "get" it, nor do either of the other two gals, both good friends for years, who are often working in the pantry at the same time. It's impossible to follow their chit chat while all of us are moving in and out of the room, often with our heads stuck in freezers. When I think someone has said something I should have heard (plans for the following week, for example) and ask them to repeat, they act like they're offended because I haven't been "paying attention." Two of them are closer to my age, even have some degree of hearing loss! In contrast, the young guy who works at the warehouse where I load bread really "gets" it. Go figure!

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Speaking as a hearing person, I appreciate being told when a person cannot hear me.

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@arrowshooter

I think you're talking to me. My wife tells me I'm unfriendly and/or unsociable. Because I can't understand speech very well I don't initiate conversations especially in a crowd or noisy place. I can tell by the look on peoples faces that I have given a goofy reply when I guessed at what was said and got it wrong. I have been in conversations and doing OK when multiple people start talking at once which makes hearing impossible for me to understand. When I leave the group I'm judged to be unsociable. I tend to be quiet because I find that the more I talk the more people assume I can understand them which is not the case.

Also it takes me some extra time to process what was said so I'm often slow to respond. That slight gap is time enough for someone else to start talking and then I'm out of the conversation – again.

My hearing is pretty good at low frequencies (below 1000hz) and my loss is profound at higher frequencies. My audiogram looks more like a right angle than a curve. That means I can hear noise well and can't understand speech. Very often when I'm driving alone or in some other noisy environmentI turn my hearing aids off because the noise is so irritating. Trying to understand speech is very hard and causes stress so I may turn my hearing aids off then too and enjoy the quiet. Then if someone starts talking to me I'm 3 sentences behind by the time I get them turned back on.

I often use gestures and facial expressions to let people know I can't understand them without interrupting them while they are talking. Because I have begun learning ASL which is a very animated and uses facial expressions a lot I find that sort of natural. It is fairly easy to understand even for folks who don't know any ASL. I often to tell people I can't hear them repeatedly unless it is someone who knows me. People always assume other people can hear AND understand.

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Arrowshooter is correct: there are lots of times when there's not much you can do except be quiet. Due to Meniere's, I can often hear that people are talking but the distortion is so great that I can't understand enough to really follow the conversation.

I had a nice break last evening because my daughter and son-in-law were here…small group, good voices, easy to guess what I don't hear. While I was in and out of the kitchen to serve dinner, they were talking with my husband about living through the '64 earthquake in Alaska, which meant that I wasn't really missing anything I didn't already know. My daughter apparently understands that I make a real effort to understand so isn't miffed if I ask her to repeat something. An entire evening of casual conversation in which I was able to participate, for the most part. Cadillac!

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@rosemarya

Speaking as a hearing person, I appreciate being told when a person cannot hear me.

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@rosemarya
Hi,
Thanks for your comment and I bet you are the type of person who tries to be inclusive and doesn’t forget that someone you know is always struggling to hear. The posts by @tonyinmi ,@joyces and @arrowshooter give you an idea of what we encounter on a daily basis. Arrowshooter mentioned the gap between hearing and understanding….that’s so critical and why we cant keep up.
People do think we are rude…and stupid also. I want others to see my hearing aids but, because my hair is on the long side, they are not always visible. I’ve worn a button that says “Please face me I lip read “ to social events. Wasn’t noticed by the majority and I’ll never forget one women who glanced at it and scuttled away from me. I’m self conscious wearing it but was thinking of pinning it to my bag when I’m out. I think that I will do that this weekend at my daughter in laws 50th birthday party….I know it will be noisy and I know a lot of the people but still….it might make more aware.

Regards from FL Mary

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@rosemarya

Speaking as a hearing person, I appreciate being told when a person cannot hear me.

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Please understand that we may not have heard you say anything to then let you know that we are deaf to some degree. lol

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@rosemarya

Speaking as a hearing person, I appreciate being told when a person cannot hear me.

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I think others do too. They don't like being asked to repeat. I'm made many such requests and people's responses are all over the map. When my wife says something (from another room or not facing me) I ask her "what?". And she replies "Oh I was talking to the dog" or "I was talking to myself". I have explained too many times to her how to talk to me to the point where it is a sore issue. I've had her come with me to the audiologist for the same discussion. She will never "get" it. It is a "spouse" thing.

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One thing I use to inform people about my hearing loss is a phone app named "Sorenson Buzz Cards". I have several short messages (displayed below) prepared on my phone which I can easily display and show the speaker. This works good in a noisy place or to inform the speaker without interrupting him. It is also useful for any short message such as a restaurant order, where is the restroom?, or here's my e-mail etc.
Messages:
1. I am hard of hearing please face me.
2. I can't understand you, please write
3. I am hard of hearing – I use sign language.
4. #1 meal, no fries, to go please.
or you can type in any message you want
You can also have the speaker type in their own message to you if necessary.

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@arrowshooter Great idea! I'm going to download it now.

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@arrowshooter

One thing I use to inform people about my hearing loss is a phone app named "Sorenson Buzz Cards". I have several short messages (displayed below) prepared on my phone which I can easily display and show the speaker. This works good in a noisy place or to inform the speaker without interrupting him. It is also useful for any short message such as a restaurant order, where is the restroom?, or here's my e-mail etc.
Messages:
1. I am hard of hearing please face me.
2. I can't understand you, please write
3. I am hard of hearing – I use sign language.
4. #1 meal, no fries, to go please.
or you can type in any message you want
You can also have the speaker type in their own message to you if necessary.

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@arrowshooter
Hi,
If you have an Android phone try Live Transcribe…I use it all the time. People with IPhones and Androids can use Otter.

FL Mary

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My concern is that my inner circle may think I'm antisocial, which is the opposite. I like people and enjoy talking to them. But there are certain situations that a group conversation of seven or more people(with or without background noise) can be a bit overwhelming. If I don't get involved in the discussion, they may think I'm ant-social or I disagree with a topic that is being discussed. I know its not fair to the individuals involved in this discussion of trying to figure out what they may be thinking of what I may be thinking, but what if the individuals involved in this discussion have a misrepresentation of me. For example, and I know its a touching subject, but lets say I joined in a conversation of seven or more people that I'm starting to get to know and the topic is Christianity. Maybe this discussion appears to be fully involved and I really want to be a part of it. What if I'm not engaging as much as the other individuals because of my hearing loss. Again, I know its not fair to the individuals involved in this discussion to think what I may be thinking(Its human nature on their part), but what if they create their own belief system about me. At this age,I still don't know when to disclose information about my hearing loss especially to new individuals. Its a work still in progress.So I'm not being rude, I just have to train my brain to stay focused of what is being discussed and make every effort to make a thought provoking contribution to this discussion. And to other discussions as well.

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@johnny3
Hi,
You should tell all new people up front about your hearing loss. If you meet regularly with a group it behooves you to remind them and give them a short synopsis of what you just said here.FLMary

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Although I tell people, including groups, that I have a new hearing problem (my "good" ear became bilateral w/Meniere's May 25), most people seemingly pay zero attention. At the beginning of a three-day retreat for river stewards, when each of us stood and introduced ourselves, I included the fact that I've lost much of the little hearing that I had and that I would try my best to follow conversations. Since it was in an outdoor setting with 30 or more people, it was often a challenge to figure out where I should be to have the best opportunity to hear and see what was being said. Discussions around the campfire were particularly challenging…impossible to speech read with a group sitting around a campfire. For the serious work sessions with a speaker/leader, I was almost always able to position myself directly across from him/her. A couple of times, I simply took a break and walked around to take a rest from listening. Still, not one single person made any attempt to speak directly to me during breaks, meals, etc. A very small percentage of people remember more than for a few minutes. I don't think it's that they don't care, telling them you can't hear just doesn't sink in.

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Most people don’t know what they should do when told of a hearing loss. You probably do this, but saying what others in the group need to do to be sure you can hear is always helpful. We need to be very specific.

Liked by arrowshooter

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