Do we deaf talk too much?
As we go gradually deaf holding conversations becomes harder and harder. Of course our friends and families are understanding and will usually accommodate us trying to make sure we are included and know what is going on around us. But for many people deafness causes isolation because it becomes so hard to talk to people. We actually become afraid to go out because someone might speak to us and fear we won’t hear, appear rude or stupid or we hear incorrectly and answer inappropriately.
But another coping mechanism for the deaf is ‘incessant talking’. (Have you ever been guilty of telling a your life history?) When I researched incessant talking I found it isn’t only deaf people who do it. It is a common addiction and often used by people who are seeking attention and approval. Many are lonely and without friends. While this is perhaps true, ironically for a deaf person, it isn’t the attention or approval they seek but rather they are trying to hide their affliction.
I remember I would hog the conversation and talk all the time – not because I thought I had anything important to say nor indeed was I that interesting. Sometimes I really went overboard and became the life of the party getting everyone’s attention. I talked to shock and make people laugh.
If I talked then I didn’t have to listen and if I didn’t have to listen then I knew what the subject was, I knew I wasn’t making a fool of myself by butting in at the wrong time, commenting on a subject which had long since been completed or saying something totally inappropriate. Of course it had the opposite effect. I’m sure most people thought what bore I was and tended to avoid me if they met me in the future – the very opposite of what I was trying to achieve. I would go home feeling lonelier than ever, recognising that my tirade had probably bored my listener and drained energy from them.
Since having my cochlear implant six years ago I have had to relearn listening skills. It is such a pleasure to hear what other people say, to be able to answer appropriately. Or even if I do miss something, it doesn’t matter – I am now like most hearing people and can quite comfortably ask for a repeat without the fear of being thought stupid.
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