July 25, 2022

Why Pretending To Hear Doesn't Work

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Why Pretending To Hear Doesn't Work

Why Pretending To Hear Doesn't Help

Anyone with hearing loss will recognize the following scenario. Someone with a voice that is difficult to hear engages you in conversation. Maybe this is a child or a person with a soft voice. As soon as this person begins to speak, you know that a problem is on the way. You can see a mouth moving and observe body language, but the words aren’t taking form in your mind. At this juncture you have two options before you. You can let the person know that you can’t hear what is being said, or you can pretend that you have heard and understood. If you choose the latter, trouble inevitably awaits. Although you can let the person speak for a moment, it is inevitable that they will ask you a question or require your response in some way. Awkward interactions await, and you will find time after time that pretending doesn’t help.

Social Consequences

If you pretend to understand what is being said, a number of social consequences await you. The speaker may feel disappointed that they were not being heard through the entirety of the conversation to the extent that they can tell you are pretending. This person may even feel like they have been misled or deceived. Social consequences may affect you in other ways. Your misunderstanding might even go unnoticed, and problems can come up down the line. You might make it beyond the conversation without an awkward moment, but it could become clear later on that you weren’t hearing adequately.

A speaker might be asking you to do something, to agree to do something or to follow through in another way. When you pretend to hear what others are saying, you can be unintentionally agreeing to things that you are unwilling or unable to perform. In these instances, your friends, loved ones, and associates may not trust you to be a good communicator or reliable. Sometimes you might luck out by guessing the right idea from a speaker, but you can’t count on that happening every time. The odds aren’t in your favor when you pretend to hear over and over again.

Emotional Consequences

When social interactions go this way again and again, they can have a strong effect on your own emotions. You may feel isolated during a conversation or afterward. The beginning of a misunderstood conversation may give you a feeling of anxiety about the inevitable moment when it becomes clear that you aren’t hearing properly. In the worst cases, you may even worry about upcoming social events when you will need to pretend to hear. This anxiety can accumulate and lead to depression, anger, and isolation.

When social situations approach that may require you to pretend to hear, you may feel overwhelmed with the trouble that awaits you. The act of pretending can bring powerful negative emotions in the moment, as well. Knowing that you are misleading your loved ones, even in this subtle way, can lead to guilt and shame. Just imagine if the tables were turned. If you were talking to family and friends and they were only pretending to understand you, the feeling of deception might be devastating.  

Cognitive Consequences

When you pretend to hear over and over again, your brain works overtime to fill in the gaps in communication. You have to guess what might be said, and yet there aren’t enough cues to let you make sense of a conversation. Over time, this lack of sufficient information can add up to greater cognitive issues. By straining your communicative powers to their maximum, your brain will find other ways to compensate for the missing meanings, and these links become increasingly bizarre with time.

The Solution: Seek Treatment For Hearing Loss

Fortunately, you don’t have to pretend any longer. Hearing assistance awaits you in a number of forms, including hearing aids that are particularly suited to the human voice and conversation in noisy environments. Rather than pretending to hear, take the opportunity to be proactive with your auditory health. Get a hearing test and talk with us at Hearing Spa about the options available to you. If you never reach that awkward moment in a conversation again, you will improve your life many ways.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Victoria L. Moore
Lead Audiologist
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Dr. Victoria Moore (Vicky) serves as President as well as Lead Audiologist at The Hearing Spa. She moved to the USA from England in 1991 and has been serving the communities of Sarasota and Bradenton for over 20 years. Her independent audiology practice focuses on adult hearing loss, tinnitus management, as well as Cochlear Implant services.


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