Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Uncategorized

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

We have all pretended to hear during a conversation. We are familiar with what this looks and feels like: nodding along and inserting verbal cues indicating that you are listening even though you haven’t actually heard everything. We engage with others daily and conversation is integral to our professional and personal lives so depending on your ability to hear effectively, you may be pretending quite often. Though this may seem harmless, consistently pretending to hear can have significant consequences on your overall health. 

Why We Pretend to Hear

There are a variety of reasons that can explain why we pretend to hear. There are different kinds of contexts that make it more difficult to hear: 

  • environments with loud background noise (bar, restaurant, concert, etc.)
  • having a conversation with multiple people 
  • multitasking and trying to have a conversation

These contexts are filled with distractions that reduce the focus on the speaker and what they are saying. We often hesitate (or can be too embarrassed) to ask another person to repeat themselves or express that we haven’t actually heard what they said. People often feel like they do not want to inconvenience the other person by stopping them in the middle of a sentence. You may not want to disrupt the flow of the conversation or have trouble asking for any kind of assistance. People can think that by doing so, it is showing that you haven’t been actively listening. 

Additionally, if you have impaired hearing, you may: 

  • not be totally aware of your hearing loss
  • be less likely to share your health condition with everyone 
  • could be embarrassed that you have trouble hearing 

Pretending to hear is not an effective or sustainable strategy. It can impact your mental, emotional, and physical health if it is not addressed. 

Impact on Hearing Health

Many people – with and without hearing loss – struggle with advocating for their needs and asking for help when they need to. This tends to be the root of why we pretend to hear which if we continuously do, it can have significant effects including: 

  • Strained Communication: pretending to hear can cause you to miss important information, instructions, details which are necessary for work (or school) related projects. This can impact your job performance and make it difficult to successfully complete tasks. You may also miss out on inside jokes or the more silly and humorous parts of a conversation that helps build connection. Not being able to hear can also make you feel anxious and stressed about engaging with others. This takes away from the pleasure and joy that conversations can be and instead they can be unpleasant interactions that you are just trying to get through. 
  • Social Withdrawal: strained communication can be exhausting and too stressful which can lead to avoiding conversations, social settings, and participating in activities. People can begin to isolate themselves and withdraw from their social life which can mean missing out on important events, milestones, and quality time with others. This creates distance and tension in relationships, causing your support system and sense of community to suffer. This can cause deep loneliness and contribute to depression and anxiety which takes a toll on your mental and emotional health. 

If left untreated, impairment and symptoms can worsen; impacting your daily life. If you find yourself pretending to hear often, it is critical to address your hearing health! 

Treating Hearing Loss 

Pretending to hear is often a symptom of some degree of hearing loss which impacts millions of people. The first step to improving your hearing health is scheduling an appointment to have your hearing tested. This involves a noninvasive and relatively quick process that measures your hearing ability in both ears. A hearing test determines any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss you may be experiencing. 

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are small, electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. Hearing aids significantly increase one’s ability to hear which allows you to navigate and fully participate in your daily life with greater ease. This improves communication, enhances relationships, and overall well-being! Contact us today to learn more.