Living in a muffled world can be surprisingly difficult. There are times when friends and family don’t realise or forget this. My dad has a habit of putting the kettle on and turning away to run water to start the dishes before speaking to me. The combined rushing of boiling and running water, his deep voice, and the fact that he is turned away, taking away the opportunity to try to read his lips, means that there is no chance on earth that I’m even going to know that he is talking never mind talking to me.
Sometimes people try to talk to me while opening crisp packets or as a bus goes past or a coffee machine starts to growl in the background.
Often I try to lipread in these situations to make it less awkward and annoying for the other person but there are times when I need them to repeat themselves or just wait until the noise lessens. You’ll find this as you go. There will be particular sounds that are more difficult to hear through. I don’t know why, that’s just how it is.
There will be times when it disrupts your conversation in ways that are irritating for you and the other person but it’s not your fault (and it’s not normally theirs either), and so you both need to learn to just get on with it. Once more, the phrase ‘you need to learn to adapt’ comes up.
Sometimes, I tell people that they need to say my name before they start whatever they want to say because it alerts me to the fact that not only is someone speaking, but they’re speaking to me so I need to focus on them.
To help you, here are some useful phrases I employ in my hour of need.
- Could you say that again when (the kettle has stopped boiling/I’ve finished this mouthful of a crunchy thing/that bus has gone by) please?
- Hang on a minute, I can’t hear you for the —– .
- I’m not hearing you very well, I’ll just put you on another setting and see if that helps *changes hearing aid setting*.
- I didn’t realise you were speaking to me.
If all else fails,
- I’m sorry, I have no idea what you are saying.
I used to find it stressful. I still do if I’m trying to have a serious conversation. But that’s just how life is now and we learn to adapt and to both give grace and ask for it.