Listening Matters – Raising Awareness of Hearing Loss!
I am thinking about hearing and the sound of silence in our remote Norfolk home in a very different way as in the last couple of months I’ve experienced hearing degradation of more than 40% across both ears. This has been a difficult time for me as I’m living with hearing in very different ways: learning to cope with noise, valuing silent moments and understanding how to adapt using tech assisted approaches to listening and tuning in!
Observing baby True as he boisterously explores the world, I’m noticing how silence and quiet time is so so important for him and his parents too. The value of silent moments in our lives as adults and children is shared in this wonderful NRP article I recently came across. The article states that silence is difficult to find and create for adults and kids alike, but when the world is quieter our brains pay more attention!
A few points that stand out for me and I’d love to share with you:
🗣️ When you repeat things to yourself, you remember them: As we teach baby True to speak, singing nursery rhymes and telling him about the sounds around him like birds chirping and bees buzzing, are all ways he is learning about noise and how to interact with it.
🎸 Making meaningful sounds like playing a musical instrument or singing is said to build and strengthen neural connections! So, singing songs while riding on our tandem brings joy and fun, as well as brain power!
🍃 Tuning in a little more to our natural sound environments by listening to the running water of a stream and leaves rustling can be totally calming and connect us to our planet too!
The stigma around hearing difficulties is astounding to me – the majority of people who have an eye test and require glasses will get them, whereas more than half of those who have hearing degradation say no thank you to help and turn away!
For this reason, I have launched a #ListeningMatters series to help raise awareness of hearing loss and degradation.
POST 1 – Listening Matters Monday’s Launch!
With the success of my latest shares to raise awareness of hearing difficulties in our community, I have decided to start a weekly series called #ListeningMatters Mondays!
On Listening Matters Mondays!, I will share a few top tips on active listening for those with unimpaired hearing as well as the importance of looking after our hearing with the advance of hearing challenges.
Today, I have three top tips to share…
1. Demonstrate that you are listening with extraordinary levels of concentration and respect; especially if English is the speaker’s second language. visibly show you are listening! nod and smile often.
2. Don’t rush to fill silences! Let others have their complete say and concentrate on what they are saying instead if formulating what you are going to say next.
3. Be a good listener out of necessity and curiosity as we strive for the nirvana of bring interested and interesting!
POST 2 – The art of listening in conversations
In this week’s #ListeningMatters Mondays! I have a few tips to share on the art of listening whilst engaged in conversations:
1. Conversational silence is an art, try it! It opens up space and time for questions!
2. Listening to understand rather than to formulate a reply
3. Reflect and role play if it is a difficult conversation or situation to navigate
I love this quote by Dean Jackson on the art of listening “Listening is an art that requires attention over talents, spirit over ego, others over self.”
POST 3 – True listening is more than hearing!
In this week’s #ListeningMatters Mondays! I’m sharing my tips for true listening – when we truly listen we don’t just hear words, we absorb emotions, ideas, and perspectives!
When dealing with people whose second language is English it pays to absorb and reflect before responding. How do we do this though?
1. Pay attention – Pay closer attention to what the speaker is saying, as well as readily repeat back to them and ask if that was what they mean. This extra attention to listening serves not only to hear what was said, but to understand.
2. Be aware of cultural nuisances – Around active listening and respect for others, I learned in Canadian indigenous meetings that whoever had the eagle feather could speak; everyone else listened. One waited one’s turn to receive the eagle feather, and only then did you have permission to speak. Very interesting practice in multiple dimensions.
3. Use your other senses – I’m still learning to compensate when speaking to someone in a mask, veil or indeed on a virtual meeting! We are growing additional capacities for communication that promote empathy and inclusion. This can only be a good thing!
This extra attention helps immensely to communicate with others and the extra effort also helps to gain respect and friendships.
POST 4 – Leadership Listening Skills!
In this week’s #ListeningMatters Mondays! I have a few tips to share on leadership listening skills!
1. Listening is a huge leadership trait, and especially listening to understand.
2. Doing 75% of the listening and 25% of the talking, not the other way around which usually happens.
3. Bouncing ideas off and opening up is so important to any person, and if we can be that person for our people then the world would be in a much better place.
“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” — Andy Stanley
POST 5 – Modern life is ruining our ears!
Today’s #ListeningMatters post is a little different, rather than tips I’m sharing awareness around hearing loss, how it can happen and how we can rise above it.
According to The Conversation UK noise exposure is the main cause of preventable hearing loss worldwide and now accounts for more than a third of all cases of hearing loss in developed countries. Anyone exposed to noise levels of 85dB or more in the workplace must be given hearing protection and be monitored for damage to their hearing. But mp3 players and mobile phones allow us to exceed that noise level with little more than a disclaimer from the manufacturers.
Yet hearing loss remains a low priority when it comes to research funding and people’s perception of the problems cause by hearing loss is surprisingly low. It takes ten years, on average, for people to seek help. One big issue is the stigma associated with wearing a hearing aid.
I love the Designer Hearing Campaign that aims to make ear pieces stand out and be stylish!
We need to call on governments to make devices more accessible and companies to make them more appealing and trendy – just like we have elaborate sunglasses, we need fabulous ear pieces in the world!