Hearing loss can pose a challenge to communication in any context, but working relationships can be particularly difficult to navigate with hearing loss. At work we are keen to build friendships and expand our networks, but a lot can be on the line in our work efficiency, as well. When we communicate with others in the workplace, we are using our teams to get things done, and any miscommunication can set off a snowball effect of negative repercussions. Not only can workplace performance suffer through miscommunication, but we can fail to play our part in an emergency situation, potentially putting ourselves and others at risk. Untreated hearing loss can contribute to poor communication, so it is important to take all the steps you can to establish strong working relationships despite hearing challenges. The best step you can take to improve workplace communication is to seek treatment for hearing loss.
Communication at Work
What can you do to promote better workplace communication with hearing loss? You might be surprised how many different jobs require communication for success. If you work in an office environment, it might come as no surprise that hearing loss poses a risk to your performance. One of the practical steps you can take is to set yourself up for the best communication environment you can. Some offices have noisy common areas, and an open office layout can be a worst-case scenario for someone with hearing loss. When you are trying to have a conversation with a coworker, this layout can be very challenging. Talk with your supervisor about the possibility of a more private office location, one that has some barrier to the sound in the rest of the office. You can take your meetings to a conference room or other location with a closed door, even if your office can’t be moved. Another helpful tip for navigating a workplace with hearing loss is to get as much information in writing as possible. When you attend a meeting, you can ask the presenter to share slides, if possible. If you find yourself in a conversation with a coworker that includes important information, you can ask that person to follow-up with an email that includes the details. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance when you need it. It just might be the case that you are streamlining the workflow for others, as well.
If you don’t work in an office or in a customer service role, you might think that communication is less important to your workplace efficiency. Indeed, some jobs requires more communication than others, but almost all jobs require some communication with supervisors and coworkers about tasks and instructions. For some jobs, the main risk of miscommunication is a disruption to the workflow or a loss of productivity. These mistakes can be costly to an organization, but the bottom line might be the only risk you face. However, other workplaces require communication to ensure a safe work environment for everyone. Some jobs in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and industry require you to communicate regularly about working conditions and potentially hazardous situations. If you fail to hear a warning or to pass that information along to coworkers, you might be creating an unsafe work environment. In these cases, it is crucial to communicate to others that you have hearing loss. Letting them know about your hearing needs can make sure that this safety information is passed along to others in the chain of communication rather than relying on you alone to share that information.
Despite these efforts to ensure a productive and safe work environment despite hearing loss, there is only one step you can take to make sure your hearing loss does not pose a risk: seeking treatment. When you get treatment for your hearing needs, you will have the best chance at improved communication, no matter what your work environment looks like. The first step toward treatment is to schedule a hearing test. This diagnostic exam will let our hearing health professionals know what you need to improve your communication, and we can recommend the right hearing aids for your individual condition. Don’t delay getting hearing assistance to make the most of your working life!