by Ed Schickel
Over the years, my wife and I have had good laughs over what she said and what I heard with and without my cochlear implant and hearing aid. It is good that I have been blessed with a very understanding wife who has an even better sense of humor. When one has a hearing issue, things get confused. Often this can lead to hurt feelings and horrible misunderstandings. On one occasion, I was speaking with a deaf friend via an interpreter. The placement of the word “only” in the interpretation led to a misunderstanding that lasted for years. I was clueless for a longtime as to what happened. Another friend eventually intervened and helped resolve some of it. Nevertheless, a friendship was almost permanently damaged.
We are entering the wonderful season of the holidays. It is a time for love, friendship and peace. It is also a time following a long contentious election period. Feelings are still very strong. Many are frightened. Like the civil war, families are divided. This is a time where hearing loss can lead to equally contentious situations.
With this in mind, people with hearing loss (and those around them) need to very carefully focus on communication skills. How does one know that what is said is what is heard? Remember: words that pass over the airways are altered by volume, facial expressions, tones of voice, pre-conceived notions and finally biased interpretations of the preceding. Those same words are equally altered by other simultaneous conversations, lighting, and general room noise. Is one’s face, eyes and lips visible? Is there something in one’s mouth that hampers speech reading? Is there a light glare coming through the window that prevents a clear picture of the speaker’s face? Is it possible that the hearing aid and/or the cochlear implant is picking up one word from the speaker and still another from a different conversation?
These questions tell us that there is more to conversation than just speech. One must take the time to view the situation and move to a different location when necessary. “Can we talk about this now or later in another room?” “I’m sorry I’m having trouble following everything you are saying. Did you say…?” “I’m missing a few words here. Can you rephrase that so I’m sure I understand?” “There is glare and I can’t see your face clearly. I’m missing some of what you are saying.”
Obviously, what I am saying is that this is a time to review one’s communication skills and put them in place. Learn more about communication skills at www.hearinglosskyhome.org
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