Several years ago, I had a hearing test done after noticing I needed to have things repeated a lot, and that I also wasn’t hearing much of what was being said on television. It turned out that I had below normal hearing for lower tones. Usually when someone’s hearing starts to go, it’s with women and children’s voices first but I was just the opposite. Since I was working for four men at the time, it explained why I wasn’t hearing a whole lot.
My immediate response was that I wanted a hearing aid. Fix the problem with modern science. It seemed like the obvious solution. But, to my surprise, the audiologist advised against it, saying a hearing aid was a double edged sword. It was true it would help me hear men’s voices better but it would also magnify all the other sounds I could already hear without difficulty. Since I’m sensitive to background noise at the best of times, it was enough rationale to give me pause.
I could never understand why my grandmother had the sometimes maddening habit of turning off her hearing aid, but now I knew. And she was as deaf as a post. I was only half that deaf.
I asked the audiologist what other options I had to improve my hearing, and her answer was that I needed to improve my listening.
That sounded like work.
Well, it was work. I had to start paying attention way more than before just to hear the same things, and especially so if I wasn’t facing the other person so I could partially read their lips. The more people and/or background noise, the harder it is for me to hear what one person is saying, so I’ve had to learn to listen better in those situations too. But, as hard as it is in person, hearing and listening effectively on a cellphone are by far the most difficult. At least with the television, I can use closed captioning.
I wish I could say it’s gotten easier to listen better over time but it’s still hard work. Hard enough that I had my hearing test repeated a couple years later in the hopes I had gotten deaf enough for a hearing aid.
I’m still not.
But, in some ways, I’m glad I have to work harder at listening because, if I didn’t find hearing to be such a challenge, I’d probably talk way more than I do now. And, heaven only knows I still talk more than enough.
The truth is…
- When we talk, we’re only repeating what we already know. But, if we listen, we’re apt to learn something new.
- No one’s ears ever got them into trouble.
- Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply.
- The quieter we become, the more we can hear.
- The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.
If we want to be listened to, we really should put in more time listening. The nicest thing we can do for others is to make them feel understood. It’s what we hope for ourselves.
We’re always saying we want to be heard. But virtually no one says they want to hear. And, if we do say we want to hear, how many times do we actually follow through? Speaking for myself, not nearly enough.
Even I heard that…