In a recent Hearing Strategies class, the time came to review last week’s homework. The homework assignment was to notice when you are bluffing, and stop yourself at least once.
Anthony’s turn arrived and he drew a blank. “Give me a minute,” he said. “I’ll think of something.”
We moved on to the next person.
Shortly afterwards Anthony piped up, “I’ve got something.”
Did he ever!
Anthony, his wife and the local nurse were preparing for the tele-health videoconference with his cardiologist. Anthony was having a hard time hearing the nurse when her back was turned to him. As so often happens, the nurse started to address her comments to Anthony’s wife instead.
Anthony made, what was for him, a bold move.
“Stop,” he said. “Talk to me. This is about my health. I may have some difficulty hearing you, but this conversation should go through me.”
Everything did stop. Anthony felt the ripple of tension in the room. From that point on, however, the conversation was paced and directed by his communication needs.
Anthony’s homework brought to mind two important points.
First of all, Anthony was infinitely better off admitting to his hearing loss than to allow the nurse to make incorrect assumptions about his cognitive health.
When our conversational partners notice that we’re not following the discussion and responding appropriately, they begin to draw their own conclusions. In the absence of information about our hearing loss, others can form a wide range of misperceptions, including we can’t follow or keep up because we’re not “with it.”
Anthony is not only “with it,” he is very knowledgeable about his own health.
The second important point came to me a bit later.
Anthony’s actions indicated a shift in his mindset. Speaking up was a turning point – after taking responsibility for his hearing loss in this way, he would never be the same.
So why didn’t this significant event spring to mind when I asked about the homework assignment?
And why didn’t he see this as a turning point until I pointed it out?
About a year ago I had an epiphany of my own. I didn’t see my own shift in mindset until my mentor, Lorraine Watson, pointed it out for me. Only after she said, “You will never be the same,” did I realize my epiphany was significant.
I asked her, what’s up with that?
She pointed out if we recognize change, we can’t go on being the old way. Not seeing a turning point is a way to stay hidden or hold ourselves back when we’ve actually moved on.
Immediately I knew this was true.
Staying small the way we were is more comfortable and familiar. Being direct is a new way, and not for the faint of heart the first time or two.
Changes happen with baby steps. Acting on even one small commitment to improve communication sets us on a path towards a new life.
What is your next step?