Why Pretending to Hear Doesn't Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

In Friends & Family, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Imagine you are out with a group of friends, and you strike up a conversation with someone new in the group. Initially the conversation starts well, and you are able to follow the basics like what their name is, where they’re from. More people enter the venue, the surrounding conversations get louder and louder, and the music starts thumping right as the person you are conversing with enters a monologue. You unable to hear and completely lose context of the conversation, yet you don’t do anything about it.

If you experience hearing loss and pretend to hear, this may be a familiar scene to you. Often times, when individuals experience changes in hearing ability, we do not want anyone else to find out, not even those closest to us. Certain stigmas of looking old may cause us to do this, but pretending to hear may greatly affect your hearing health and your social situations.

Why Do We Pretend to Hear?

Those facing hearing loss may pretend to hear for a variety of reasons. Some of us feel that interrupting the flow of conversation may make the speaker feel bad or we really just don’t want to do anything that calls attention to our hearing loss. The stigma of hearing loss and feeling old may prevent us from addressing our own hearing problems as well.

Just think about it: in group conversations, those with or without hearing loss rarely tend to interrupt something speaking. It’s a cultural habit that we don’t keep interrupting the speaker to repeat themselves over and over again. We may often pretend to know a cultural reference, a specific song, or why a joke is funny even if we don’t just to avoid interruptions. The feeling of wanting to understand or feeling engaged within a conversation makes us feel like insiders.

Everyone pretends to some degree and often, it is harmless. But when you are experiencing hearing loss, giving off the impression to others that you can hear better than you do may lead to confusion, stress, or awkwardness. Even if it doesn’t, internally those who pretend to hear may stress over the fact that they didn’t gather any information and are setting themselves up for the same problem over and over.

Pretending to Hear Can Lead to Other Health Problems

In all scenarios, pretending to be able to hear while facing hearing loss forces you into a corner. You’re bound to face some sort of embarrassment in social situations when friends find out you haven’t been understanding them all night. But what if the environment changes from a social setting to work? Pretending to hear at work might be even more detrimental. You have a meeting with your boss, and they assign you specific tasks to complete. You may have missed some vital information if you pretended you understood. Pretending to hear in these cases could lead to making huge mistakes, costing you not only a lot of respect, but also your job.

In the short term, pretending to hear while facing hearing loss might help you save face, but in the long run there may be more negative impacts to your overall health. The built-up stress may prevent you from going out with friends, leading to social isolation. With social isolation comes cognitive decline, and potentially more hearing loss.

Break the Habit or Replace the Habit?

As they say, “old habits die hard.” Since breaking bad habits are often extremely difficult to accomplish, perhaps replacing them with good habits might help. When it comes to pretending to hear with hearing loss, we can change the routine into something more constructive. While struggling to hear, instead of asking for someone to repeat, or even worse, staying silent, preparing a script or discussion points ahead of time may be useful.

An effective script or talking points should include: 1) bringing up your hearing loss to those you engage with, especially if they are unaware of your hearing situation, 2) Talk about the hearing challenges you are currently facing, and 3) Bring up specific mechanisms to improve the situation or conversation so that the both of you can understand each other.

Get Your Hearing Tested Today!

Are you finding yourself in situations where you are pretending to hear? As much as it is important to recognize the bad habit and replacing it with a good one, it is equally crucial that you get your hearing tested if you notice hearing trouble. Problems with your hearing are best examined by a hearing specialist – like our great team at South Shore Hearing Center. We have the expertise and experience to help you find the right hearing solutions for any issue. Connect with us and set up a hearing test appointment today!