I have a colleague at work who has a hearing loss. He’s had it for so long and though he’s discussed it with me (because he knows I have a hearing loss as well), he still refuses to look at hearing aids.
I’m concerned because of what I am seeing around us. My colleagues react to him by basically laughing behind his back. I cannot help but wonder, if people say the same things about me. I do wear a hearing aid but there are definitely times I KNOW I am missing out on parts of conversations. Sometimes I can catch that I am missing something by people’s expressions and I am certain, there are times where I am totally unaware and look duh! But on the whole, I’m pretty good at reading people.
My colleague definitely does not know what he’s missing out on or when he’s missing out on pieces of conversations and therefore, he looks as though he’s not processing what’s being said. I don’t like people using the phrase dumb but because he’s pretending to hear and not responding appropriately or not responding at all, people see him as dumb. They don’t see him as “not getting it” and he’s not hearing what’s being said. They just think he’s not a smart person. And because he doesn’t ask them to rephrase or repeat, they don’t see it as a hearing loss problem. Actually, the more I think about it, he has not told people he has a hearing problem, which is another problem. But I have told people he has a hearing problem.
Yea, Yea, I know, I had no right to tell people. There’s just no way I can tolerate hearing what people are saying about him and thats why I told them. However, hearing people will be hearing people and not understand the full picture about hearing loss.
So this takes us back to hearing people totally not understanding what we go through. It’s easier for them to interpret our behavior or lack of reaction as our being clueless and dumb than to say hey, wait a minute, this person is not hearing what we’re saying. It’s not that they are not listening, they are not hearing.
Whenever I see the parents of the children we evaluate, I always ask parents, has your child had a hearing test and a vision test. The answer is almost always 9 out of 10 times, yes, my child has had a vision test. Hearing appears to be one of those “things” that parents feel, because their child can hear at home, that they must have normal hearing. However, I really do believe, the majority of parents do not give hearing much thought.
Getting back to my colleague. I’ve tried speaking to him about hearing aids, about being more assertive when he cannot hear but he insists he hears most things and is not missing out on anything. There’s also a very macho attitude as he’s mideastern. I have found that many mideastern men view hearing loss as a loss of their manhood and refuse to admit they have a hearing impairment. This person told me, he will pray to his god to restore his hearing.
Well, I hope while he’s praying, he prays that he can learn to read people better because if he doesn’t start learning more social cues and reading peoples faces, hearing people are not going to give him an iota of understanding.