At 25 years old, I’ve had my fair share of getting to know complete strangers, whether it’s through school, work or social settings. I’m at a time in my life where I’m constantly meeting new people and as a result, I became a lot more comfortable with disclosing my hearing loss.
One thing I’ve always liked doing was gauging the reaction of the other person when I tell them about my hearing loss. I think that their reaction can be a good indication of the type of person they are. I also like reflecting on how their reaction makes me feel.
I decided to write about one interaction where I disclosed my hearing loss to a complete stranger, and their reaction to it.
Last October, my best friend Vanessa and I visited the City of Angels, aka Los Angeles. While we were there, we met a guy around our age named Lorenzo.
He lives in L.A. and is very personable, has a chill personality and wears pretty awesome shoes.
We all ended up chatting before a taping of a show that we went to, and we ended up grabbing a bite together afterwards. Vanessa and I knew next to nothing about him, and he probably felt the same way about us.
We were all asking each other questions, just getting to know each other, and the topic of my book came up. Naturally, Lorenzo asked me what my book was about, and I just casually said that it was a non-fiction book of short stories centred around me growing up with hearing loss.
He was curious and asked questions, which is what most people do when they find out.
Then I noticed something. His attitude and mannerisms changed. Before I mentioned my hearing loss, Lorenzo talked fast, and tended to move his head around a lot when talking. After mentioning my hearing loss, he slowed down his speech, and made it a habit to look directly at me when he was speaking, which made it easier for me to read his lips.
He became more mindful of my hearing loss and changed his behaviour slightly so that I could feel more included in the conversation. I really appreciated that and it also taught me something.
It taught me that, in my case, being mindful is a two way street. When it comes to my hearing loss, it’s not only others that need to be mindful, but me as well.
I need to be more mindful of my own behaviour, and help the other person understand a bit more about my hearing loss, and what can be done on both of our parts to make sure that the communication flows easily.
It was after meeting Lorenzo, and seeing how he deliberately changed his mannerisms to accommodate me, that I can help by taking an educational approach and letting people know more about my hearing loss upfront.
If you’re someone who knows a person with hearing loss, is there anything you wish they would do so you can help them out more? If you’re someone who has hearing loss, is there anything you would add to become more mindful during new interactions?