The workplace can be a challenging place for everyone. In some cases there may be pressure to perform, the job in itself may be difficult or dangerous, deadlines may be tight, or maybe a person has their eye on a promotion. No matter the situation, the workday can be full of challenges for anyone. However, if you are living with hearing loss, the workday may seem much more prolonged and arduous. For the hearing challenged, communication becomes much more difficult and can take a lot more concentration. Concentration takes energy, and with the amount of energy expelled, a person’s mood and efficiency can be negatively affected, hurting their overall job performance.
Unfortunately, many keep their hearing impairment a secret at work, failing to inform anyone about their disability. However, over time this can create more problems and stress, so being open and honest about your condition is highly recommended. We know being open and straightforward about your hearing impairment can generate a lot of anxiety and stress, but informing others about your disability is the only way to move past it in a healthy manner. Not only is this empowering, but it also reveals to others that you don’t let your disability define who you are.
Managing hearing loss in the workplace doesn’t have to be as tricky or as stressful as you think. You can establish strategies for managing your impairment in a healthy, productive manner. To assist you in finding the correct approach, check out some of the ways you can effectively get the most out of your time at work.
Be Open and Honest
Even though this can be scary, honesty really is the best policy. By being honest about your hearing loss, you are giving your colleagues the best chance to communicate effectively with you. Being aware is the only way a person can help and make accommodations, so don’t hide your hearing impairment to your coworkers.
Communicate Your Needs
Let your coworkers and management know what they can do so you are able to understand them better. Whether they need to speak up, speak slowly and clearly, look at you while they are talking, give you information and instructions in writing, or if they need to speak to your ‘good side.’ No matter what it is, communicate your needs. Remember, many people want to help, they often don’t know how to.
Don’t Expect Your Coworkers to Ask
While many people may want to help, they may be too afraid or embarrassed to ask. In many cases, it’s because they are scared of upsetting or offending you accidentally. So don’t leave it up to your colleagues to ask how they can help, be proactive and let them know. By educating them, you will seem much more approachable, leading to questions and open communication, and this can help clear the air of any misunderstandings.
Know Your Rights
Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer is required by law to provide reasonable accommodations and must provide what you require to do your job. Whether it’s needing sign language interpretation, assistive technology, written memos, or even time off to address your hearing health, be open about your requirements so the proper accommodations can be made. You are entitled to it! Knowing this helpful tidbit may help you feel more comfortable when it comes time to communicate your needs.