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How to Talk to Your Employer About Hearing Loss

By Sixty and Me October 29, 2015 Health and Fitness

Today’s job market is competitive. Because of this, we do our best to avoid showing any signs of vulnerability or weakness. Though hearing loss is a sign of neither, employees can be afraid to talk to their bosses or even their co-workers about it, but shouldn’t be. Let’s look at the facts.

Hearing Loss is Not Rare

Hearing loss is more common than you may think. A total of about 36 million Americans have hearing loss. More specifically, about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64. Of the adults aged 20 to 69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, fewer than one in three have used them.

Signs and Symptoms

Though hearing loss must be diagnosed by a trained professional, certain signs and symptoms are associated with it. These can include:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • Trouble hearing certain consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

Left untreated, these symptoms can have negative repercussions: Not hearing the message of a meeting, not understanding and being able to process directives and having to slow down conversations can hurt your job performance.

Talking to Your Boss

Hearing loss has many causes, but one thing is certain: it is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a something to be considered a flaw. It is a medical condition, and one that often requires treatment. Keep this in mind when you prepare to tell your employer about your hearing loss.

When you meet, talk about some of the symptoms you have experienced. If needed, provide concrete examples of when your hearing loss came up in the workplace, such as misunderstanding information presented at a meeting.

Be open and honest.

Finally, inform your boss that you are seeking treatment for your condition. Seeking treatment is the type of proactive behavior employers appreciate. Most will respect your resolve to continue giving your best performance at work by overcoming obstacles such as hearing loss.

Talking to Your Co-Workers

After you have told your boss about any hearing loss related issues you have experienced in the workplace, discussing the issue with your co-workers is the next step. Again, it is helpful to be open and honest; however, it is not necessary to share your specific diagnosis. Rather, you can share some etiquette regarding hearing aid wearers.

For example, there’s no need for your co-workers to shout at you to compensate for your hearing loss. Emphasize to co-workers that, though they might need to speak a little more slowly and clearly to accommodate you, there is no need to single you out. Remind your co-workers to speak directly to you rather than allowing their eyes and faces to shift in other directions.

Being Confident

If you’re concerned that wearing a hearing aid will erode your confidence in the workplace, know that today’s hearing aids are discreet, close-fitting pieces. If it has been determined that you need a hearing aid, it’s important that you wear it, especially in the workplace. Showing your co-workers and employers that you are treating your condition inspires confidence in your performance.

Making It Easy

Having a job can mean that you have a tight schedule, with little room for appointments separate from work. Fortunately, Miracle-Ear has more than 1,200 locations nationwide for your convenience. Find a location near you today.

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Do you agree that hearing loss is an issue that should be brought out into the open? Please join the conversation.

This sponsored post was written by Kendra Bergstrom.

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The Author

Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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