Why Pretending to Hear Doesn't Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

In Hearing Loss by Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HISLeave a Comment

Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HIS

If you have a hard time hearing, you’ve probably pretended to hear a few times before. You might have been out with friends at a noisy restaurant, and couldn’t quite follow the conversation. You decided to smile and nod along and hope no one would notice. But then someone asked a question, and suddenly everyone was staring at you! Here’s why pretending to hear doesn’t help.

Why You’ve Been Pretending to Hear

There are a few different reasons you might pretend to hear. If you’ve only recently noticed your hearing loss, you may not have told your friends that you have a hard time hearing. You’re not sure exactly how to bring it up, and you don’t want the focus to be on you.

Another reason you might pretend to hear is that you don’t want to interrupt the conversation to ask someone to repeat themselves. They seem so passionate about whatever they’re talking about, and you don’t want to disrupt the flow of their thoughts. Finally, you might be pretending to hear because you’re in a group setting, and you don’t want to make everyone else wait while you get caught up on what’s being said. 

Even people with normal hearing will pretend to hear for these same reasons! People with normal hearing also have a hard time hearing conversations in noisy settings, and they might smile and nod along even if they didn’t hear every word.

Why Pretending Doesn’t Help

The danger in pretending to hear is that it signals to your conversation partners that you can hear a lot better than you actually can. In social situations this can lead to funny misunderstandings, but if you’ve been pretending to hear during meetings at work, no one will know that you’ve actually missed some very important information. Pretending to hear now will make you more likely to pretend in the future, and you’ll have the same problems in all your conversations. 

How to Stop Pretending

The first step is to identify the triggers that are making you pretend to hear. For example, a common trigger is having a conversation in a crowded bar or restaurant. Another trigger is when everyone else in the conversation seems to have no problem hearing what’s being said.

Once you know your triggers you can stop pretending. Next time you’re in one of these trigger situations, decide how you’ll turn the unhelpful habit of pretending into a useful habit. For example, get into the habit of letting people you know didn’t hear something, and asking them to repeat what was said.

Ask for Accommodations

Did you ask someone to repeat themselves, but didn’t hear it the second time either? Did that make you go back to the habit of pretending to hear because you didn’t know what to do next? When you’re having a hard time hearing someone, you can do more than just asking them to repeat what was said. If you can ask for what you need, your friends will be happy to help!

These are some accommodations you can ask for that will help you hear:

  • Ask to sit next to the person you’re trying to hear, rather than several seats away.
  • Ask that your friends speak one at a time rather than having 2 or 3 conversations at the same time.
  • Ask that the background music is turned off so it’s easier to hear what’s being said.
  • Ask your friends to rephrase what they said, rather than just repeating it. 

When you stop pretending to hear, you can develop good habits like asking people to repeat themselves and asking for accommodations. 

And the good news is that your friends will get into good habits too! When you stop pretending and let them know you’re having a hard time hearing, your friends will naturally do things to help you hear. They may check in to see if you’ve understood, turn off the music when you come over, or make sure they face you when they’re talking. 

Treating Hearing Loss

Are you tired of pretending to hear? Contact us today to find out how hearing aids can make it easy to hear. With speech enhancement settings and noise reduction features you really can hear every word.

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