Making new friends in adulthood may be a daunting experience for some, but hearing loss shouldn’t make it any more difficult. When discussing the issue with our Facebook community, we learned many people find it intimidating or awkward to discuss the issue too early. However, we’re here to reassure you that people will have a much easier time empathising and communicating with you if you take the time to fully explain your circumstances. As one of the most common health conditions in the world, there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when discussing how hearing loss affects you.
Don’t hold back details
Paula H. advises that, since everyone experiences it differently, it’s best to tell people the extent of your condition (Is it one or both ears? Do certain sounds make it better or worse? Do you lip read? etc.) up front so they’re aware. All of these details will help inform your new friends and alleviate potentially awkward questions or misunderstandings. “I hear better in my left ear, so I make sure they know to sit on that side of me when we’re out to dinner or to talk into that ear when we’re chatting,” Paula said. “It saves a lot of time and a lot of laughs – jokes are much funnier the first time someone says them!”
Ask them to face You
In a world of distracted conversations, we often find ourselves talking at our screens instead of the person standing in front of us. This can make understanding people incredibly difficult, especially if you rely on lip reading to get the whole story. Marco D. said something as simple and polite as, “Excuse me, I read lips to supplement my hearing – can you face me when we’re chatting?” should be enough to save new friends from having to repeat themselves and save you from having to miss out on getting to know them properly. “I’ve had to ask all my friends – old and new – to remember to speak directly to me. In reality, it’s not too big of a request, and a good friend will ALWAYS accommodate,” Marco said.
Tell them your preferred mode of communication
For many people who suffer from some form of hearing loss, texting or email can be the easiest and best way to catch up with a friend. Sharon P. admitted phone calls are nice, but said they’re often more difficult for people with hearing loss to interpret. We also suggest using FaceTime, Skype, or a similar video calling service, as seeing someone’s face and reading their lips is usually helpful when voices may be unclear.