Hearing well helps boost your career confidence

Do you feel as if you’re losing your edge in the office, missing key points in meetings or nervous about trying new opportunities because of an unfamiliar listening environment? Hearing issues could be to blame.

“Hearing loss typically declines slowly, and the individual doesn’t consciously notice or do anything about it,” explained Lori Rakita, Au.D., Phonak Senior Manager of Clinical Research. “It’s unfortunate because hearing loss is about more than just hearing. It’s really about keeping connected with the world and people around you.”

Since so much of your time is spent at work, hearing loss can affect that connection and therefore affect your career.

Understanding the full picture

When asked what type of challenges might present themselves, Rakita listed some of the most common. “There’s a difference between asking someone to repeat themselves, because you didn’t hear or understand them and asking them to repeat because you didn’t fully grasp the point they were making,” she said.

Many times, patients explain that they know someone is talking and they can make out some of the words but not enough of them to get full understanding or comprehension of what is being said.

Someone struggling with hearing loss may also arrive early to meetings to claim a certain position at the table, possibly in the middle if he or she is experiencing overall hearing loss, or at one end or side if the hearing issue is worse in a specific ear. He or she may choose a seat in the front row at a presentation so that he or she is closest to the speaker.

Listening fatigue

“You may feel tired at the end of the day because you’re straining to listen, also known as listening fatigue, due to higher effort used listening,” Rakita said.

If you’ve ever experienced that exhaustion after a day of being tuned-in at a conference or all-day meeting, you’ve encountered a form of listening fatigue. Tat feeling is multiplied if you are struggling with hearing loss, since you’re working that much harder to hear and comprehend everything being said, filling in words and making your ears and mind work that much harder.

The career effect

“You feel like you’re missing things that other people are understanding because you look around to see if other people seem to be getting it or are also missing out,” Rakita said. “Those with hearing issues try to compensate by nodding, by taking a guess at what’s said based on a couple of words they heard, or by not saying anything at all.”

The struggle of not feeling like you fully know what’s going on can lead to withdrawal because it’s difficult, embarrassing, or frustrating to continue to participate in certain meetings and conversations and equally difficult to not be included in them.

“Withdrawal should be a huge red flag, but it takes some self-awareness to notice it and seek help,” she added. “Family members or a significant other might notice hearing loss first, since hearing loss can be difficult to sense in yourself.”

Office solutions can make the difference

“There are also several discrete solutions that can help, accompanied with hearing aids,” Rakita noted. These solutions include:

  • Small personal table microphones, such as the Roger Select™ and Roger Table Mic II can change receiving direction, based on where in the room the sound is coming. The sound feeds into the hearing aid wirelessly, making meetings much easier to conduct and participate in for the person with hearing loss.
  • Teleconferencing or video calls are a smart option because you can incorporate the visual cues of the lips moving with the auditory cues.
  • Streaming phone calls directly through the hearing aids helps with communication and connection. Devices such as the Phonak DECT cordless phone automatically transmits calls to your hearing device, keeping you from having to turn up the volume on a speakerphone, disturbing others in the office.

“We see people who have retired considerably early because of their hearing loss,” Rakita said. “When they come to us, we would typically do a hearing test and then make recommendations. We hear all the time that the suggested solutions make a huge difference, so much so that some people go back to work because it was really their hearing that prevented them from feeling confident in their career.”

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