Cranky customers and rush hour are challenging enough, so don’t stand for an unpleasant culture. If you find yourself being put into any uncomfortable situations or receiving discriminatory treatment, let your management or an adult know so they can help you figure out the best way to deal with it.
There are certain things that will be more difficult for you, so being honest about them is the best way to make sure that everyone can work effectively. For example, maybe you have trouble hearing people on the phone but don’t want to hand responsibility to your co-workers. Or you find it hard to understand people during meetings but you’re too shy to speak up. Find a quiet time to speak to your manager one-on-one and let them know what you’re struggling with. If you can provide an alternative solution, they’ll appreciate you taking the initiative.
Your co-workers are likely eager to make things easy for you but might be afraid to seem rude by asking questions or talking about your hearing loss. If you’re comfortable to, encourage them to ask questions and be open about what you need, and what your hearing loss means for you on a day-to-day basis. Here are some things you can share with them to break the ice and get everyone up to speed:
Inform them of any hearing devices you wear
Explain the specifics of your condition (e.g. your hearing loss is greater on your left side so speaking to you on your right side is preferred)
Let them know correct terms, replacing generalisations like “deaf”
Tell them the best ways to communicate with you (e.g. speaking slowly, making eye contact, not covering their mouth)
Ask them to rephrase or repeat themselves when you have trouble understanding
Your workplace should be a fun and open environment. Informing the people that work with you will help to make everyone comfortable and able to work effectively together.
If you’d like more information about working with hearing loss we’re always happy to chat.