Picture yourself at a restaurant with friends. You’re enjoying spending time with everyone, but if you’re honest with yourself, you know you’re not hearing or understanding most of what’s being said. The restaurant is crowded and loud, and the voices of your friends are getting lost in the din.
But you haven’t admitted to yourself, or anyone else, that you have a hard time hearing. Instead, you just keep smiling and nodding along. After a few minutes though, you might start feeling anxious. You don’t even know what the topic is anymore, and you’re worried someone will start talking to you.
And then it happens. Your friends turn to you and ask a question. The only problem is you have no idea what they asked! You hazard a “yes” and see a puzzled look on all their faces. That night you lay awake feeling embarrassed. What did you say yes to, and what was the right answer? What will your friends think about you now?
Pretending to Hear
If you’ve been pretending to hear, this story is all too familiar. You’ve felt that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you’re completely lost. And you’ve experienced the anxiety and embarrassment of answering inappropriately.
When you pretend to hear, your loved ones have no idea why you’re being so quiet, and why your answers don’t make any sense. They may start worrying about you, but don’t know what to do about it.
There are a few reasons people pretend to hear. For example, you may feel uncomfortable interrupting to ask what’s being said. After all, everyone else seems to be hearing fine, and you don’t want to break the flow of conversation. The truth is that everyone pretends from time to time. Especially in places with background noise, even people with perfect hearing pretend to catch the punchline of a joke and fake a laugh at the appropriate time.
Pretending once in a while can be easier than interrupting the conversation, but if you have hearing loss, pretending to hear is a bad idea.
Less Social Support
Your friends want to include you, but if they don’t know you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to offer social support. They won’t check in to see if you’ve understood, or make sure you’re included in the conversation. And yes, they might get annoyed if you ask them to repeat themselves because they don’t know that you have hearing loss.
People who ignore their hearing loss or pretend to hear are at risk of becoming socially isolated. If you’ve had some embarrassing moments when out with friends, you’re less likely to join them next time. You may come up with an excuse to stay home rather than face the stress. This isolation can lead to loneliness and increase your risk of depression.
Identify Times You Pretend to Hear
Are you in the habit of pretending to hear? Start by identifying the times you pretend to hear. Is it when you’re out with friends? Is it at home? Is it when everyone else seems to have no trouble following the conversation? Once you recognize the triggers that make you pretend to hear, you can watch for these triggers and prepare for them. For example, you can tell your friends you often have trouble hearing in group settings and ask if you can interrupt when you don’t catch something.
Asked once and still didn’t understand? You can also replace the habit of pretending with a new habit: one that will help you hear. For example, if you’ve asked your friends to repeat something and you still don’t understand, you can ask to switch to a seat where you can hear more clearly. Your friends are happy to help you hear, and switch seats with you. This means that rather than pretending to hear, you’ll have a better chance of actually hearing and easily participating in the conversation.
Treating Hearing Loss
It’s time to stop pretending to hear and invest in your hearing health. Hearing aids will help you catch all the sounds you’ve been missing. They even help you hear in places with lots of background noise and in group conversations. Visit us to find out how you can enjoy better hearing!