What People with Hearing Loss Hate to Hear

As a longtime hearing aid user and, more recently, a cochlear implant recipient as well, there’s something that I’ve never gotten used to. When I ask for a repeat and I get, “oh, never mind,” or a wave of the hand that blows me off, or “it was nothing, really,” it makes me burn.

Hearing Aid Wearer Ignored

Let me be the judge of what you said. I want the same chance as a hearing person to decide if what you’ve said is silly, idiotic or just plain wrong.

Sometimes when we say something, we wish we hadn’t and just want to move the conversation along, but the person with hearing loss is blocking your way with a request to repeat. In this case, let me know that it really was nothing important: “Oh, I shouldn’t have even said that, because it’s so silly, but here it is…etc. etc.”

But whether or not it was an inconsequential statement, saying ‘never mind’ is also insulting, because it sounds as if you think we’re not worth the effort of saying it again. And that’s hurtful.

People with hearing loss have to ask for repeats

People with hearing loss frequently ask for repeats – we have to! We wish we didn’t, but if we don’t ask for repeats or clarification, then our only recourse is to leave the conversation or bluff ­– pretend we understand even though we’re not getting it. And that’s not good for either of us.

If I’m asking for what I feel is an extraordinarily high number of repeats, then it’s on me to try and change the listening environment. “Hey, this is hell for me, can we talk out in the hall, or outside?” And you can suggest the same thing, if you feel you’re being asked to repeat every sentence. But clearly, something has to change.

We, the people with hearing loss, work hard to stay connected in conversations, to keep up, to get it right. We’re interested in what you have to say, and appreciate your extending the courtesy back to us.

If you’re a person with hearing loss and someone tries to blow you off with a “never mind” or “it was nothing,” you can spout steam and breathe fire, but a better response is: “Please, let me be the judge of that.” Or – “if it was worth saying once, it’s worth repeating.”

And then when they do repeat, you can always say, “You’re right – it wasn’t worth repeating. But thanks anyway.”