If you live with hearing loss, you know that hearing issues bring with them unexpected challenges. Untreated hearing loss can limit our relationships with family and friends, affect our mood and overall health and make it harder to get ahead at the workplace. How we handle hearing loss can have a big impact on whether or not our hearing issues hold us back. Here are some tips if you are managing your hearing loss in a professional environment.
Use Hearing Aids
Most hearing loss can be better handled when you use hearing aids. Getting hearing aids is a proactive step to improve your hearing and helps you keep up with your workplace. Many modern hearing aids offer digital technology that can give you the leg up you need. For instance, hearing aids are available to integrate with your smartphone and can stream audio from phone calls and video chatting directly to your hearing device making meetings and phone conferencing easier.
Digital hearing aids can be programmed to optimize your hearing in different sound environments to help you hear better in social and workplace settings. Hearing aids also assist you in discerning the direction and source of sounds which facilitate better hearing in group situations. Today’s hearing aids can also assist you with built-in tinnitus relief to help maintain your focus and concentration during your workday.
Did you know that leaving hearing loss untreated creates cognitive stress? When untreated, hearing loss forces your brain to work overtime processing incoming sound and speech. Your mind has to work harder to piece together incomplete audio information and draw meaning from it. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and frustration. On the job,
Advocate for Yourself
Many people are nervous about disclosing their hearing loss to an employer, but doing so may help you gain access to workplace accommodations that help you thrive. For example, while you don’t have to tell your employer you have hearing loss, it can help optimize how you are asked to communicate with coworkers. Instead of – or along with – verbal communication, projects can be outlined in emails or text chats to make sure you don’t miss important information. Meetings can be arranged so they don’t happen around distracting background noise that affects your comprehension.
If you treat your hearing loss with hearing aids, don’t assume your coworkers have noticed your assistive devices. Hearing aids today are more discreet than ever before, often concealed entirely in the ear canal. If you wear hearing aids, take advantage of their features at the workplace. Stream conversations directly to your hearing aid when possible, and take time to adjust your hearing aid settings to minimize common background noise at your workplace.
Treating your hearing loss is one of the best things you can do for your job performance, however, whether or not you treat your hearing loss there are some simple skills that can help you on the job. One huge help is learning where to place yourself in a room for better hearing.
For meetings, choose locations that are enclosed and quiet. Open common areas or restaurants often have too much chaotic background noise and don’t work well for focused hearing. Placing yourself where you can see everyone involved in the conversation assists you with following who is talking and the tone of what they are saying. Sitting in a spot where you are away from blowing vents and open doors or windows intercepts additional noise distractions. Finally, sitting with your back to a wall helps you discern speech direction and dampens excess noise.
Read Body Language
When you experience hearing loss, you may find that you’ve become engaged with reading lips to help discern what is being said. Equally important is picking up on non-verbal body cues that convey information. Some helpful cues are knowing when others comprehend your meaning, want to ask a question or need to add something to what you are saying. Catching these cues can help you work better with others.
When reading body language look for eye contact and subtle nodding t indicate engagement and understanding. People who have something to say or a question to ask will lean forward, ready to engage you. When people ask questions, they often raise their eyebrows or tilt their head to encourage an answer. When someone is ready to interject into a conversation, they may make a small hand gesture, such as raising a hand or finger. Use these cues to work with the flow of conversation, and incorporate body language cues into your own communication style to help others with hearing challenges.
Have you experienced changes in your hearing? Are you concerned you may have a hearing loss? The best way to find out, and to seek treatment, is to contact Hearing Group for a hearing test. We can help you identify any issues present and work with you to find a solution that will help you thrive both in the workplace and in your everyday life.