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Allow Me To Introduce Myself: I Have A Hearing Loss

introducing myself and my hearing lossYou can find more from Shari of Living with Hearing Loss on Facebook and Twitter. She also maintains her website, Living With Hearing Loss, where this post was originally featured. 

“Hi, my name is Shari and I am excited to be at this conference/retreat/class.” This is how it usually begins. We all go around the room and introduce ourselves, give a reason or two why we are here and it moves onto the next person. But at my most recent retreat, I decided to try something different. I began with the typical particulars, and I ended with the following:

“Oh, and I just wanted to mention that I have a hearing loss, so I will be positioning myself as close to the teacher as possible during the exercises (meaningful look in the teacher’s direction to make sure she heard this), and if you speak to me and I don’t answer or if I look at you like you have two heads, please don’t think I am rude, I probably just didn’t hear you. Please try again.”

I had never done that before — made my hearing loss a part of my introduction in front of a group — but I know I will do it again. It worked famously!

First of all, during the introductions, people are typically paying attention, so it was an efficient way to get the message out there, and it made me feel a lot less fearful of dirty looks from others in the group as I moved up close to the speaker at all of the events. A few people even came up to me afterwards and disclosed their own hearing loss or that of a spouse or loved one, which is always a good bonding moment for those of us with hearing loss.

Secondly, it made an impression. Later that day, the teacher made a point of putting me in a good spot for a particularly hard-to-hear segment of the class, and when I needed to ask people to repeat themselves, they seemed more willing to do so (at least the first few times).

Thirdly, I felt much more relaxed. My fear of not being able to hear everything or that I might reply to a question with the answer to something else was gone. Everyone already knew I had a hearing loss, so they would expect a few flubs. The flubs might even be funny. Maybe…

Lastly, I could ask for help as I needed it without a big explanation. For example, I was able to ask people to switch seats with me a few times so I could see (and therefore hear) better at various presentations and at the group dinners. All requests were met with a smile.

Maybe I was just lucky that this particular group was so accommodating, or maybe I felt more comfortable asking for help, but the meeting was one of my most productive and pleasant. I plan to try this announcement trick at my next group function. If it helps even half as much as it did at this particular event, it will absolutely be worth it.

Readers, if you experience hearing loss, do you announce it as a part of your self-introduction in a group setting?

Shari Eberts

Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing loss.

Katherine

Friday 22nd of April 2016

Shari I deeply respect who you are and what you do! I wish I was as mentally strong as you are.

Shari Eberts

Friday 22nd of April 2016

Thank you for your kind words. It is tough the first time, but it gets easier after that. I know you could do it if you needed to.

Lynette

Thursday 21st of April 2016

Shari, I think this is brilliant. I also have hearing loss and have come to realize that letting people know actually helps my uncomfortableness with wearing hearing aids. Asking people to repeat themselves or weirdly staring at their face while they talk can be quite off putting to most people!

Shari Eberts

Friday 22nd of April 2016

Thanks for sharing you experiences. It does feel good to get it out in the open up front!

Anne Louise Bannon

Thursday 21st of April 2016

Wow. You'd think it shouldn't take bravery to announce that you have an issue hearing, but for so many people, it does. I'm glad you found a safe place to do this.

Shari Eberts

Friday 22nd of April 2016

Thanks for your comment!

Joan stommen

Thursday 21st of April 2016

So sorry we didn't connect at bAM, Sheri. I am delighted to read your post here...so simple yet powerful! It's not easy be upfront about ourselves, but as you state... Once it's out there, you're more relaxed and confident! I have two family members with hearing loss and they miss so much.....can't wait to share this with them. Well done!

Shari Eberts

Friday 22nd of April 2016

Sorry we missed each other! Thanks for sharing the post with your family -- I hope it is helpful to them.

Elaine Ambrose

Thursday 21st of April 2016

Shari, I enjoyed talking with you at the BAM Conference. I learned so much from you, and I applaud your writing skills. I'll be watching and reading. Namaste.

Shari Eberts

Thursday 21st of April 2016

Thanks Elaine! Loved meeting you too! Namaste.

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