Imagine you are out with a group of friends, and you have a conversation with someone new in the group. Initially, the conversation starts well, and you can follow the basics, like their name and where they’re from. More people enter the venue, the surrounding conversations get louder and louder, and the music starts thumping right as the person you are conversing with enters a monologue. You cannot hear and ultimately lose the context of the conversation, yet you don’t do anything about it.
This may be a familiar scene if you experience hearing loss and pretend to hear. Often, when individuals experience changes in hearing ability, we do not want anyone else to find out, not even those closest to us. Certain stigmas of looking old may cause us to do this, but pretending to hear may significantly affect your hearing health and social situation.
Why Do We Pretend to Hear?
Those facing hearing loss may pretend to hear for a variety of reasons. Some of us feel that interrupting the flow of conversation may make the speaker feel bad, or we don’t want to do anything that calls attention to our hearing loss. The stigma of hearing loss and feeling old may also prevent us from addressing our hearing problems.
Just think about it: in group conversations, those with or without hearing loss rarely tend to interrupt something speaking. It’s a cultural habit that we don’t keep interrupting the speaker to repeat themselves repeatedly. We may often pretend to know a cultural reference, a specific song, or why a joke is funny, even if we don’t, to avoid interruptions. The feeling of wanting to understand or feeling engaged in a conversation makes us feel like insiders.
Everyone pretends to some degree, and often, it is harmless. But when you are experiencing hearing loss, giving off the impression to others that you can hear better than you do may lead to confusion, stress, or awkwardness. Even if it doesn’t, those who pretend to hear may stress that they didn’t gather any information and are setting themselves up for the same problem over and over.
Pretending to Hear Can Lead to Other Health Problems
In all scenarios, pretending to be able to hear while facing hearing loss forces you into a corner. You’re bound to face some embarrassment in social situations when friends find out you haven’t understood them all night.
Pretending to hear at work might be even more detrimental. You have a meeting with your boss, and they assign you specific tasks to complete. But what if the environment changes from a social setting to work? You might have missed some vital information if you pretended you understood. Pretending to hear in these cases could lead to huge mistakes, costing you a lot of respect and your job.
In the short term, pretending to hear while facing hearing loss might help you save face, but in the long run, there may be more negative impacts on your overall health. The built-up stress may prevent you from going out with friends, leading to social isolation. With social isolation comes cognitive decline and potentially more hearing loss.
Break the Habit or Replace the Habit?
As they say, “old habits die hard.” Since breaking bad habits are often extremely difficult to accomplish, perhaps replacing them with good habits might help. When pretending to hear hearing loss, we can change the routine into something more constructive. While struggling to hear, instead of asking for someone to repeat, or even worse, staying silent, preparing a script or discussion points ahead of time may be helpful.
A compelling script or talking points should include the following:
1) Bringing up your hearing loss to those you engage with, especially if they are unaware of your hearing situation,
2) Talk about the hearing challenges you are currently facing,
3) Bring up specific mechanisms to improve the situation or conversation so you can understand each other.
Get Your Hearing Tested Today!
Are you finding yourself in situations where you are pretending to hear? As much as it is essential to recognize the bad habit and replace it with a good one, it is equally crucial that you get your hearing tested if you notice hearing trouble.
Problems with your hearing are best examined by a hearing specialist – like our fantastic team. We have the expertise and experience to help you find the proper hearing solutions for any issue. Connect with us and set up a hearing test appointment today!