by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man asked,
What are some reliable methods and words I could use to find the self-confidence I need to be a better self-advocate for my hearing loss?
This is an excellent question. Too often, people with hearing losses find it very difficult to advocate for their needs. Thus learning about proven hearing loss coping strategies that work for others will give you some tools to put in your toolbox. Then you can pull them out and use them when needed.
Marcy has a great coping strategy tool for letting people know that she is hard of hearing and that, as a result, they need to change their communication habits in order for her to understand them.
I always start by saying, “I am hard of hearing.” Then I say, “I am not sure if I already mentioned this before. If not, these are a couple of things that would make my life a lot easier. Would you be willing to help me?”
Then I stop and don’t say a word. (I will wait forever if need be for them to respond. Yes, it can get quiet, but you need to give them time to take in what you just said.)
Usually, they respond with, “I am so sorry, how can I help?”
I say, “Nothing to be sorry about! This is what you can do.” Then I give them two or three specific things they can do in that situation. These are short and simple tips—nothing too long—for they will forget (people have a lot on their minds).
This works for me every time. I now do it on the phone too. It works the same way.
When I first started doing this, my problem was remaining silent, waiting for them to respond. You have to wait. Sometimes I miss their response because I can’t hear them. That is okay. They will say it again…louder.
Now that you know this simple little coping strategy, you need to practice it. Remember, don’t rush in to fill the void. Wait for the other person to break that “pregnant pause”. This sort of “forces” them to be on your side. It works for Marcy. See how well it works for you.