I am coaching an audiologist on the LACE (Listening and Communication Enhancement) program. This week she said, “It’s ridiculous how fast the voices are in the Rapid Speech task. In real life, if someone was talking that fast, I’d say, ‘I have normal hearing and I can’t understand you, so you better slow down.”
This is what it is like to have a hearing loss. Sometimes, we have to communicate in ridiculous listening conditions.
The difference is—she has normal hearing. She is confident that the problem lies not with her, but with the person speaking. She remedies that by saying, “Slow down!”
People with hearing loss don’t have that kind of confidence. I had trouble hearing my pharmacist today. He was talking impossibly fast and looking at his computer. I attribute my difficulties to my hearing loss. It’s my “fault.”
Often people with hearing loss feel a slight panic when they realize they are not understanding. Your focus shifts. You’re not listening any more. You’re thinking, “I can’t hear him. What’s he saying? I can’t get this. I’m too tired. I never hear well when I’m tired.” Your attention is elsewhere, for that part of the conversation.
With LACE, you regain confidence. First of all, you get practice listening when people are talking really fast. You get better at it.
More importantly, you learn to relax. If you don’t get the first couple of words, you might get the rest of the sentence if you keep trying. You have to keep trying, though.
Sometimes you don’t hear every word. It’s doesn’t matter. If you get the general gist of the sentence, you’ll be fine. LACE reinforces that over and over again.
It’s a training program. You practice and practice and practice. Then, in real life, when the pharmacist is a mumbler, you can smile with confidence and say, “I have a hearing loss. Can you slow down and say that again?” and not feel bad about it.
Communication is a two-way street. My job is to own up to having hearing loss, tell people what I need, and keep focusing. The pharmacist likely has to repeat himself quite a bit, even for people with normal hearing. Maybe he’ll get the message, eventually?!
Related Post: LACE Training Strategy: Let it Happen