Do You Have Any Hearing Loss Relationship “Complaints”?

Regardless of who you live with, if one of you has hearing loss, communication is going to be affected. It can be tough to navigate, or not so tough, depending on a few key factors applicable to all parties.

How well do they communicate in general? How patient are they in dealing with challenges? Most importantly, how much do they care for the other person and how willing are they to make adjustments in personal communication? (The degree or type of a person’s hearing loss, or the technology they use, may not be as relevant as these other points to successful interactions.)

How many of these sound familiar or apply to your life? Have you worked any of them out with your communication partners?

(Note: To prevent having to use “s/he”, I use she in the second column to refer to the person with hearing loss, and because that’s how I self-identify.)

Common Complaints

By the Person with Hearing Loss


By the Hearing Partner/Friend/Family Member

They mumble.


She doesn’t give me credit when I do communicate well.

They walk away from me while talking.


She walks away from me while talking.

They call me from another room.


She starts conversations from another room!

Sometimes they seem to do it on purpose.   I just forget sometimes.
He over-enunciates which I find demeaning.


She asks me to repeat myself even if she doesn’t need it.

I have to turn the closed captioning  back on all the time.


Why can’t it be off when she’s not watching?

I am neglected in group conversations.


She tunes out and bluffs during group conversations.

They are just not sensitive to my needs.


Everything is about her hearing loss.

They forget about my hearing loss.


She hears fine sometimes, and not in others. I’m not a mind reader.

I like to be the one to explain my hearing loss.


I just try and help her with people we are meeting for the first time.

They are slow to answer my questions during conversations.


I can’t always repeat or interpret as quickly as she would like.

They really try. They are my mountains of support.


I love her. I want us to understand each other – and others!

I’m a better communicator because of them.


I’m a better communicator because of her.

Looking at these twin lists of complaints, the solutions may seem self-evident. However, remembering a partner’s communication needs in any given moment is not always easy, especially during an argument, or when tired, or when there are more than two people in the conversation. But without this attention to communication needs, the person with hearing loss is effectively sidelined and excluded.

Good communication takes commitment and caring, as seen in the last two rows of the chart.


Note: This chart is adapted from my book, The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss (pg. 93), which is part memoir and part survival guide. 







About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.


  1. Than\k you for sharing. The tips are valuable.
    My guilt – – I walk away talking and thus miss the end of the conversation.

    Happy hearing

  2. Hi Gael,
    I enjoy reading your articles.
    It gives me insight into my daughter’s life as a young adult with hearing loss.
    Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.