With increasingly more people in the workforce suffering from some degree of hearing loss, whether due to age or other reasons, more people are speaking out about the difficulty of working in a modern office with the condition. Still, navigating a professional environment with a diverse set of opinions and drawbacks for those with hearing loss can make any job more difficult. This is why it’s important to recognize your unique situation and make a plan for how to manage hearing loss in your workplace.
Should I Tell My Coworkers About My Hearing Loss?
The first and most pivotal step toward managing your hearing loss is telling those around you. For friends and family, the concessions and habits they should adopt to help you are a no-brainer. But other employees or supervisors may not be as accommodating or understanding.
It’s reasonable to feel this way. Surveys have shown that nearly half of people who have revealed their hearing loss during or after recruitment don’t feel as if they’ve received reasonable accommodations in their job.
However, the Americans With Disabilities Act protects workers from discrimination based on conditions like hearing loss, and employers are obligated to uphold those protections and accommodations. When you tell your boss that you have hearing loss, you gain agency and protect your rights to working in a way that works for you.
Don’t Fake it Till You Make it
Although many people simply keep quiet about their hearing loss, the effects of faking it can be harmful to both you and your company. Missing important details in a meeting or conference call can derail projects or cause you to overshoot deadlines. Unless you speak up about your condition, people won’t know to do simple things like face you while talking, or avoid covering their mouths. So although it can be hard, embarrassing, or stressful, telling others is the best way to ensure you have a healthy working environment and can be as productive as possible.
When To Reveal Your Hearing Loss
Although it’s usually best to reveal your hearing loss to at least a few people in the long run, this may not be practical or reasonable for everyone. It’s also possible that you’ve developed hearing loss in a workplace that you’ve worked in for many years and now require a different work environment. Whatever the case, the timing of when to reveal your hearing loss can be tricky.
Some people find it helpful to reveal their hearing loss to trusted coworkers or supervisors before announcing it broadly. Even better is when a supportive supervisor works with you to develop a standard practice for meetings that requires people to employ hearing-friendly behavior. And if you’re applying for a new job, it may be best to introduce the topic gently, such as telling recruiters about your involvement in advocacy groups, for example.
Dealing With Non-Hearing-Friendly Habits
Ideally, everyone you talk to will be understanding and accepting of your need for certain habits to help you hear clearly and not miss important information. However, some people may treat you differently once they know you have hearing loss, which leads to tension or conflict, especially if they’re making it harder for you to do your job well.
One approach that can be helpful to get others on board is to simply take it lightly. Having a sense of humor and moving on quickly from the subject can be an effective way to bring the subject up without risking making others feel awkward or ashamed.
Hearing Assessments in New Jersey
If you find yourself asking “what?” at work more than usual, it may be time for a New Jersey hearing test. At Hearing Doctors of New Jersey, we can help you get the hearing solutions you need to continue working and thriving no matter your hearing ability. Get in touch with us today by calling or filling out a contact form online.
To learn more about hearing loss, download the FREE Insider’s Guide on how to finally hear better.