Why Pretending to Hear Doesn't Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

In Communication, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Related Disease, Hearing Loss Treatment, Signs & Symptoms by Nikki DeGeorge Weaver, Au.D.

Nikki DeGeorge Weaver, Au.D.
Latest posts by Nikki DeGeorge Weaver, Au.D. (see all)

Imagine yourself in a conversation without the ability to hear what others have to say. What would you do? For some people, the first instinct is to call out for help, and that impulse makes it possible for many people with hearing loss to pursue assistance as soon as they realize the problem. Yet, other people have different responses to that situation. Some might try to lie low, seeing if they can get by without hearing. Others, will angrily blame the situation, insinuating that others are responsible for their sudden inability to hear. Yet others will play along, pretending to hear when they aren’t able. This last group is more common than you might think. 

When a person has untreated hearing loss, it can be enticing to play along with a conversation, pretending that you can hear everything. This approach might feel like a way to avoid conflict in the short run. And yet, that avoidance can lead to far greater problems and conflicts in the future. Let’s walk through some of the negative outcomes of pretending to hear, as well as the benefits that wait in store for those who pursue assistance. 

Short-Term Avoidance

Pretending to hear in the midst of a conversation might feel like the right choice. Rather than interrupting the flow of communication to let others know that you don’t understand, it might feel easier to sit on the sidelines. Perhaps you imagine that you can ask your loved ones later about what happened. Particularly out in the world, you might think it will be okay to just nod and smile. Some people even go as far as to answer in the affirmative to questions, hoping that their response will work out. One common tactic is to divert a conversation when something can’t be heard. Rather than replying to what the other person has to say or making up an answer, some people abruptly change the topic. Still others avoid participating in conversations by letting others speak for them, particularly family members who are present and who know about this undisclosed hearing loss. 

Long-Term Problems

Despite the impulse many people feel to avoid communication in the short term, this predilection can lead to serious long-term problems. In the first place, missed information can cause inconveniences, logistical problems, or even dangers. Beyond the practical matters of missing information, something happens psychologically when you check out on conversations. Those who pretend to hear tend to report higher rates of anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. Though it might seem inconsequential to act as if you are hearing what’s happening, you are telling yourself that your participation in the world doesn’t really matter. It is of utmost importance to our psychology to know that we are cared for and able to meet our needs, and feelings of independence can be closely tied to those feelings of wellbeing. 

Pretending to hear in conversations can do the opposite, making a person feel as if they can’t really get along in the world. Untreated hearing loss and the struggle to communicate has even been linked to higher rates of dementia, suggesting that something is happening in the cognitive process that is harmful to our thought process when we pretend to hear. 

Benefits of Treatment

When you get the treatment you need for hearing loss, the impulse to pretend to hear can be alleviated. Returning to conversations as an active member reinstates a feeling of independence and connection, reminding you how important you contribution to the world really is. Your friends, loved ones, and family members want to know how you think and feel, and a transparent conversation is crucial to building these bridges with your community. 

Hearing aid technology has advanced remarkably, providing assistance that can even raise the voice of a speaker in the room while leaving the background noise in the background. With this communication-based assistance individually tailored to your needs, you can re-engage with the world rather than floating through it as an observer. 

This direct connection with the community has been shown to have positive effects on your mood, mental health, and cognition, as well. Why not take the opportunity to seek treatment rather than pretending to hear? Contact us today to learn more!