Include Coworkers with Hearing Loss During the Holidays

Holiday season is upon us and so are holiday work festivities. And while the holidays are a great time to catch up with family, friends, and coworkers alike, they can also pose challenging listening situations for people with hearing loss.

Enable full participation at holiday parties

Imagine all of your coworkers gathered in a room for their yearly holiday work party. There are multiple conversations taking place, silverware clanking together, and music playing in the background. These kinds of listening situations can be challenging even for those with normal hearing.

A coworker with hearing loss can feel left out if they’re unable to take part in or keep up with the conversation. Consider these tips when attending a work party to ensure that anyone with hearing difficulties feels included:

  • Get their attention: Make sure you have a listener’s attention before starting a conversation by saying their name or touching their shoulder lightly.
  • Maintain eye contact: Be careful to face a person with hearing loss before speaking. This will make it easier to hear you, and allow them to pick up cues from your lip movements and facial expressions.
  • Be attentive: Be aware of a coworker who is quiet during the holiday party. They might be having trouble hearing and could use your help in order to participate in a conversation.
  • Rephrase, don’t repeat: When someone doesn’t hear something another said, oftentimes the speaker will repeat themselves. But person with hearing loss might not be able to follow a conversation because they are having trouble hearing a specific sound or word. So instead of just repeating what was said, try rephrasing.
  • Speak clearly: Shouting can distort words and mumbling makes speech difficult to understand for people with normal hearing. Do your best to speak at a normal volume and pace — not too fast or slow.
  • Don’t cover your mouth: Keep your hands away from your face to produce clearer speech and allow those with hearing loss to see your mouth. Also, don’t chew food or gum while talking.

No one likes to be left out of work festivities. For people with hearing loss holidays parties can be exhausting and overwhelming. By making these small adjustments and keeping your co-worker involved in the conversation, everyone can enjoy this year’s holiday celebration.