Skip to content

Never Mind vs Deaf Nod

We try our best to hear in most situations. We want to hear. If we miss something, we ask for a repeat and still can’t understand, maybe because of background noise or we are stuck on a key word and the other person utters the two most hateful words, “Never mind.” Those words are a pet peeve of mine and as it is to many other hard of hearing people as well.

We feel hurt when people dismiss us from communication by saying the words “never mind.”  It leaves us out of the loop and feeling even more isolated than we already do. Daily, we let many words go by without hearing or understanding.  We pick and choose when to ask for repeats so we’re not such a bother. Then, when we ask a repeat and get slammed with those words, it goes straight to the heart.

These past few months, I attended a speech reading class. There were three ladies who hadn’t been around others with hearing loss. They were just seeking help after years of doing it alone. At the beginning or end of each class, the topic changed to coping strategies or cochlear implants. One night, one of the girls asked how to handle someone saying, “Never mind.” She went to a church service and someone who usually helped her said those words. Our teacher suggested taking her friend aside and telling her how it hurt and asking her if she would rather find someone else to help.

Then they asked how I dealt with it. First comes the hurt but hot on the heels of that comes anger. I hit the roof. People don’t normally tell me “never mind” twice because in a rant, I let them know I do the best I can and it’s not my fault I have a hearing loss. I never asked to be hard of hearing.  I want to be included, and I insist on knowing what was said.  It doesn’t matter how silly the statement was.  Sometimes it IS silly and nothing I needed to know but I want to decide for myself.  Anger may not be the best way to handle the situation.  It comes automatically for me. My friend’s advice in class about taking that someone aside to talk it out is a better idea and maybe I will remind myself that next time.

My boyfriend was on the receiving end of “never mind” once. He never used it again. One day, while I was at my desk answering an email, he came in and babbled something. I didn’t want to lose my focus on writing so I nodded my head, also known as the deaf nod. He freaked out and hit the roof. “You tuned me out,” he said angrily. “That’s not right and it probably feels just like someone telling you never mind,” and he stormed out of my office. I sat there thunderstruck. The deaf nod equals never mind? It blew me away. Knowing how never mind felt, I took more responsibility listening to others.

To be fair, he should have waited until he had my full attention before starting to talk because even a hearing person can get caught up in a task and tune people out. Still, the whole scene left an impression on me and the wheels started to turn. Is the deaf nod a dismissal of sorts? Even though we are trying not to bother someone (or ourselves at times), the fake out message may come across as if we don’t care enough about them to hear what they have to say. Faking it, for the first time, had a slightly evil feel to it and because of that, I became more aware.

Before that, I hadn’t thought to put the deaf nod into the same category as never mind. What do you think? How do you deal with never mind?

24 thoughts on “Never Mind vs Deaf Nod”

  1. I had to laugh out loud at the never mind. It reminds me of whenever my husband is on the phone with someone and I hear excitement in his voice. I skip over (well, not exactly skip), I dance over closer to the phone and ask excitely, what did he/she say. My husband waves his hand and says, “in a minute, in a minute.” He continues to laugh and say “oh wow,” “that’s unbelievable,” “oh I can’t wait.” I say aloud, oh come on, what are you guys so excited about, I want to know. Again, hubby waves and says in a minute. His facial expressions in this conversation has me on my tippy toes dying to know what all the talk is about. Finally, he gets off the phone and I say to him, so, what was that all about? He turns to me and responds, oh! nothing important, and walks away.

  2. Yes, I agree with Chelle as to what she wrote about the “Never Mind” and the “Deaf Nod.”
    I’ve encountered over my life items along the lines of…”oh, it’s not important”…”oh, it’s just a joke…forget about it”…”you wouldn’t understand anyway…it’s too complicated”…etc…etc…etc…

    The “Deaf Nod” is another one. In any event both parties are/or responsible. Please let me explain for a moment. If it’s unintentional, that’s okay…it may be an accident…but if either one of the parties realizes this, the other should be apologetic upfront. This not only include hearing persons but also HOH’s and the deaf, deafened, and Deaf. Both sides have to come to an agreement to help each other out in any way, shape, or form, figuratively. This is a fast paced world now…for the HOH and Deaf words can’t be rushed or otherwise communication is lost and both parties will feel disappointed. On another note, the hearing person’s view is explained as above; the HOH and Deaf have to play their part too. Maybe both parties are shy, unsympathetic, or couldn’t care less because s/he “thinks”it’s too difficult to get a conversation going. Ignorance on one/both party(ies) may play a role here. Education by the HOH and Deaf is another aspect that should be applied.

  3. Let’s not forget, “I’ll tell you later.” Either they forget what they were talking about, or if I ask later and they say, “I forgot.” I don’t like that excuse either much.
    You are right, it’s responsibility on both parts. Communication is a challenge for most people but for us we have to work that much harder to get it.

  4. The “never mind” gets me fuming, too, and I have let a few people know how I feel about it! I hate being left out! People who don’t know you don’t deserve the deaf nod, but people in your family, those whom you have had “in training” for awhile, should know when and how to speak by now. Perhaps the deaf nod will remind them of their manners. Perhaps it’s all in the attitude.

  5. Funny, I have a relative who talks all about herself and never inquires about me or others. That deaf nod comes in handy, lol, she don’t know the difference between hearing and really listening. She’s does all the talking, and I do mean she hardly gives anyone airtime to talk back, so I’ve had to tune her out years ago. That’s the way it is. 🙁


  6. Another one Chelle: Some hearing persons who find out when they are alerted by a HOH by a HOH person that s/he is HOH, they say “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Most hearing persons are polite and use HOH etiquitte to communicate. Moreover, some HOH are offended when the hearing person says, “Oh I’m so sorry about that” as if there is pityness involved. What I say to a hearing person is that there is “nothing to be sorry about.” Just listen and carry on with a conversation with the HOH. The HOH may have to educate the hearing person about his/her hearing loss before lines of communication are opened.

  7. I figure the deaf nod or faking it is absolutely allowed when I’ve repeatedly told people to speak up, slow down or look at while talking and they don’t. If they can’t meet me half way, why should I burn up all my energy listening. And you’re right, all some people want to do is talk and they don’t care what the answer is anyway.
    I was a hairdresser for years and I always told people I could not hear them with the blow dryer so afterwards we would resume talking. There were a few people who no matter how many times I told them would continue to talk anyway. At first I used to turn off the blow dryer to listen but that put me too far behind schedule so faking it was allowed in my book.

  8. I get that one too, “I”m so sorry.” I shrug that one off as it doesn’t bother much. Sometimes I tell people that just the way it is, it could be worse. Or it’s always something.

  9. all my life, I do not think I’ve ever tune out because its boring. I’m trained not to do that as I know I WILL miss out as I do not have the opportunity to pick up sounds without looking. some people talk for miles and its get tiresome to hang on to every word spoken.I worked twice as hard as hard. So I do the deaf nod when my brain is oversimulated and want to shut down. I rather if people keep it short and simple so I have the energy to other things (instead of coming home, take off my ci or ha and shut the down).

    It’s possible the guy did NOT like people telling him to adjust his communication
    style he is comfortable with

  10. sorry, hit the sent button too soon. I mean, I think he did not really have the patience at all in general if he is not understanding.

  11. Oh that wasnt a deaf nod if you tuned him out because of distractions. I know its hard to multitask with listening because we are deaf . but a deaf nod is when you do want to hear but you just can’t pick up the conversations, so instead of asking them to repeat out of fear they might be annoyed for interrupting their flow of conversation, you do the deaf nod to pretend you are listening to them.

  12. It was the I’m busy nod??? lol I find myself doing the deaf nod when I’m tired too. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing it, it’s just something I fall back on when my brain hurts from too much input already.

  13. That’s why I do dishes at hearies just to avoid to conversations…. basically to avoid having to say “could u repeat please?” then to only get “Never mind” “Tell u later” etc

  14. Hi,

    You have a right to be heard just like anyone else. If someone tells you “never mind”, “it’s not important”, “you wouldn’t understand anyway”, “I’ll tell you one of these days”, etc…You be assertive and confront the person and tell him/her “How would you feel if you didn’t hear the conversation because your HOH?” Tell the person that s/he is being selfish. You have to stand up for yourself and not run away like a dog with its tail between its two legs. Be assertive, not aggressive is the key here.

  15. I do dishes for a hearing break but not for never mind. Todd is right, be assertive and maybe get mad. Tell you have just as much right as anyone else there to hear and understand what was said.

  16. Sometimes HOH are just too exhausted from trying to decipher words that are being said that they give up and isolate themselves because they’re more comfortable that way. Why try to figure out a puzzle or maze if the hearing person does not “understand that I’m hard of understanding what I hear?” It’s just too much work and takes a toll on the HOH individual. A HA or other ALDS does not fully restore hearing loss like glasses do with eyesight.

  17. It ameazs me that some people can be so judgmental, calling things “unnatural”, then turn around and get some plastic surgery on their face or body. And yes, it does happen with a countless amount of Christians.Hypocrisy is pretty wide-spread.

  18. The so-called “Deaf Nod” is not exactly an equivalent to a hearing “Never Mind.” It can be, sure, but this is not always the case: Deaf use the head nod for a multiple of purposes. If a Deaf person is nodding through a whole signing conversation this would be more like “I’m interested and trying to understand what you are saying.” Most often in ASL a head nod is an affirmative (sort of like a period) for a declarative statement OR a Topic indicator, such as using the Head Nod on the final Sign of a phrase.

  19. I often attend meetings with ASL interpreters and I have noticed the deaf person nodding her head as the interpreter signs. Sometimes I even see them shaking their fist with ‘yes’ as it goes along too. I recognize that as acknowledgment and it’s not the same look we have.
    What I’m referring to as the deaf nod (with a small “d”) is for those of us who are hard of hearing and faking it. I see it all the time among us and recognize it right away because of how much I used to do it. It’s not a look of acknowledgment at all but clinging to the hearing world and trying to pass ourselves off as normal. Whatever normal is.

Leave a Reply