Recently a friend asked me a questions that I often ask myself ....How do I handle group setting with several conversations going on at the same time. Yes, a recipe for a difficult hearing situation.
Should I let people know that I’m having a hard time following the conversations or just accept that group settings are difficult to hear int? Further, do I tell them what they can do so I can hear them, knowing they will have to change their familiar ways of communicating. And based on experience, there's a good chance that they’ll revert back to their usual way of talking.
I often wonder what is right. Do I have the right to ask a group to modify their behavior for me (one person) or should I accept the situation and either choose to stay or leave?
Are you surprised that I ask myself that question when my mantra is all about advocating for ourselves? Well I do. I wonder where the boundary between advocating for myself is and being a pain in the neck is? Am I being a wimp or just being realistic?
Here’s one situation that I struggle with….
I’m in a music class where there’s a lot of noise from the instruments and the acoustics in the room are bad. Coupled with that, there are always a few conversations going on at the same time. Needless to say, it’s difficult to catch the conversations but I love the class so I put up with it.
Since I miss most jokes, do I laugh along with everyone even though I don’t know what they’re laughing at or do I sit there like a zombie? Neither option is desirable. But what is right if I don’t hear the joke? Do I ask them to repeat it when they’re already onto something else? Do I ask them to stop and slow down when that would mean a total modification of their behavior?
The people in the class know I have a hearing loss and have trouble hearing. I’ve already told them. But I don’t think they understand the ramifications of what that means. …. They don’t understand that I miss their one-liners, miss the punch line to their jokes or simply miss the general flow of conversation. And if they do perceive it, I don’t think they remember what they
can do so I can understand them better. Do I keep on reminding them with a good chance of making them uncomfortable or worse, alienating them?
Chances are we all have group situations similar to this. What is the right thing to do? Stop the conversation and explain what works, let it go or not participate at all. Probably the answer lies someplace in the middle.
Readers, please scroll all the way down to share your experiences.