How To Negotiate A Difficult Conversation About Hearing Aids
There are some things in life that are difficult to hear. As we go through life, these things change. As children, we don’t like being told that it’s bedtime, or that there’s no more cake. As teenagers we don’t like hearing anything that resembles good advice. As adults, we don’t like hearing about taxes or public holidays falling on weekends. While these things appear quite different, they do have something in common: they all involve a loss of autonomy.
According to one theory, autonomy is one of three basic psychological needs, and it refers to our ability to live independently. We don’t like it when our autonomy is limited, even temporarily. Our other two needs are to interact with other people and to develop and use our skills. When our hearing starts to go, all three of these needs take a hit. As you can imagine then, being told you might need a hearing aid is difficult to hear (in more ways than one)! Much like the sensible advice others offer us as teenagers, a hearing aid can be something we appreciate only after we experience the good it does us.
Typically, if news is hard to receive, it’s also hard to deliver. People can react badly to being told that they are losing their powers. It’s important to appreciate the gravity of the situation, the sensitivity of the person we’re telling, and the delicateness we need to use when offering our opinion. We can prevent others from becoming defensive by sharing our opinions in a constructive way. This requires us to be clear and confident in our communications, but not in such a way that the other person feels as though they’re being attacked.
A good way to approach this is to avoid discussing the hearing aid as something they need, and instead talking about a hearing aid as something that could make life easier.
When discussing hearing aids with a loved one, try to avoid focussing on the aid itself. A hearing aid can be seen as an admission that we’re physically not what we were. No one wants to admit that their body doesn’t work the way it used to, and that they need a device to compensate. Instead, turn the conversation towards those things that the hearing aid will be beneficial for:
- Enjoying conversations with friends and family
- Feeling more confident in social situations
- Hearing when someone is at the door or calling on the phone
- Listening to the sounds that add music to life
- Not having to try so hard to keep up in conversations
- Not having to pretend that you can hear when you can’t (most importantly!)
In fact, you could even push the argument that a hearing aid gives them more control than they had with perfect hearing.
Unfortunately, our bodies don’t last forever. No matter how much cosmetic surgery you fork out for, it’s simply out of our control. A hearing aid is one way to take back some control over a vital aspect of our lives. While a hearing aid is rarely at the top of our wish list, most people that get one only wish they had done so sooner.
A hearing aid is much more than just a device that amplifies sound. It’s really a tool to preserve our emotional, mental, and physical health. If you’re concerned about a loved ones’ hearing, and think a hearing aid might be a good idea, try to follow these tips:
- Frame it positively (something to help them, not something they need)
- Focus on what and how the aid can help, not the aid itself
- Preserve their autonomy by making it a suggestion, not an instruction
- Ask them about their experience, don’t just tell them what you think
Remember, people don’t like feeling like they’re losing control, so let them make their own mind up. We are much more open, and adapt much better to decisions that we make for ourselves. This might take a bit more time, but it’s worth it if the other person sees the hearing aid in a more positive way.