May the Wind be Always at Your Back


"May the Wind be Always at Your Back"

I love this Irish blessing.  The wind at my back consists of the helpful people around me.

Every Friday, I go to lunch with my friends.  We pick restaurants with varying noise levels, lighting, and seating arrangements.  Before we sit down, my friends always ask me where I want to sit. They know that the location of the table, and my place at that table, will affect how well I hear.

If you have directional microphones in your hearing aids, like I do, the best table in the room is one that puts most of the noise behind you. Directional microphones will reduce the sound coming from behind, and emphasize the sound coming from the front. 

My friends don’t necessarily understand how directional microphones work (or that I even have them), but they know that where I sit is important. 

How helpful they are.

What if you are not surrounded by people who are helpful?  What if the wind is not at your back?

You can teach others how to help you. If your significant other, your family, and your friends don’t know that where you sit is important, once you tell them, I am sure they will happily accommodate you. Your job is to let others know what you need.

The key is that other people can, and will, make things easier for you communicate. But you have to teach them. And be prepared to tell them more than once. 

Dr. Samuel Trychin, a psychologist with hearing loss, said, “Many people who are hard of hearing have the erroneous assumption that all they need to do is to inform a speaker once about their communication needs, and that person should remember to do it forever more.”    

As Dr. Trychin pointed out, people are more focused on what they are saying than how they are saying it. And since most of the people that they talk to don’t require this accommodation, they don’t get a lot of practice.

If the wind is not at your back, change your direction. Ask for help. Tell people what you need to communicate. And be prepared to tell them more than once.

Have you tried this?  Are you willing to try it?

Related Posts:

Hearing Loss:  How to Remind Others so that they will "hear" you

Hearing Loss:  Whose Problem is It?



Photo credit:  © Alan Fortune



I agree.  People are more

I agree.  People are more focused on what they are saying more than how they are saying it.  Most people are completely unaware of loud or soft their own voice is, or how fast they are talking. Consequently, bringing it to their attention is an easy way to remedy the situation.  And at the core, when people are telling you something, they want to be understood.  Once they know that the message is not being received, people naturally attempt to modify the way it's being delivered. The strategy as described is an excellent reminder!BPE 

Unfortunately, no matter how

Unfortunately, no matter how often I remind people of my hearing problems, emphasizing no motive to curry sympathy, only understanding, they just don’t make any appreciable effort to speak up. It’s okay in a quiet environment, one-on-one or even a few other people, but in a noisy environment it’s especially difficult in conversations with soft spoken individuals. I think what it boils down to is people just don’t understand because they’ve never suffered from hearing loss so they can’t relate to the problem. As a result they don’t feel compelled to accommodate. Furthermore, people are creatures of habit, so the saying goes, which might also explain why they don’t raise their voice around the audibly challenged, simply because the level they speak at is their lifelong normal level. BTW, my left ear’s tinnitus compounds the problem because it is often “screaming” a loud hissing sound, especially in noisy environments.

Maybe I'm at fault for not being direct enough, too polite, advising in an almost apologetic manner, so my words carry little weight behind them? Oh well, maybe it's time to invest in a hearing aid for my dead ear (left), then I won't need to worry so much about those I'm conversing with having to compensate for my hearing issues :)

People forget!

Thanks for your comment, R.Watt. I have experienced this too. I agree, it is hard for people to understand if they don't have direct experience. I think the main obstacle, though, is that people forget. Today's blog is for you.

Keep Your Sense of Humor

Sandra is right - people, even your closest friends and associates tend to forget ... after all my need is "my" need, not theirs. Almost everyone today has a friend or immediate family experiencing some degree of hearing loss and they lump us into a single group - but we are not, everyone's story is different.

I took a technical writing class years ago and the theme was simple. My need to tell had to match my "audiences' " need to know. No more, no less.

I have only one ear currently working with a HA (and intermittent hearing loss which can drop at any time without warning). At the beginning of a discussion, I ask for a minute and outline my needs and thank everyone in advance for helping me to be a part of the group. Then depending on the group ... we think of a sign that others can notice as a reminder. This changes from group to group but is often something humorous. They suggest it so it is easier to remember.

So, my list

1. It doesn't help me when people to speak louder - it actually hurts. This is something they need to know. Raising their voices is not necessary.

2. It does help if people look at me more frequently and speak slowly even when they are addressing someone else. I speech read fairly well, but ... and that of course is a big but. When it happens it's great. Usually before the end of the gathering it's forgotten. What do I do next?

3. Privately thank the people who I was able to understand. It helps them remember me and they are usually pretty pleased with themselves. Now they've joined my team. They, not I can remind someone else to look at me if I look confused in a situation because I didn't hear. And, they tell someone, who tells someone etc. or classes)

thank you

Thank you for your comments, CelticLass. You have insight and compassion that we can all learn from. ~Sandra