We need people. Having a social life is an integral part of our mental health, but sometimes making connections with others isn’t easy. This is especially true if you have an impairment that makes communication difficult.
For the deaf and hard of hearing, this hardship can lead to an isolation that weighs upon the soul. The feeling of being on the outside of daily life can lead to conditions like depression and anxiety.
Whether you were born with a hearing impairment or you developed one over time, it can be a challenge to bridge the gap. Here are some tips to help you reconnect with others and build friendships.
Social Life Challenges for the Hard of Hearing
It takes a new level encourage to engage in conversation with others when hearing the conversation is a hardship within itself. Even those of us with confidence can find our courage wavering when we have trouble following the conversation.
The mental focus it takes to pick up on words, tones, and social cues can be exhausting. Feelings of being a burden upon others set in as they have to repeat themselves or guide you through the conversation.
Sometimes it just feels easier to retreat into isolation where we can’t be teased or embarrass ourselves by mishearing or misinterpreting what people express to us.
Most schools may accommodate hearing impairments, but they don’t teach students how to overcome the social stigmas and challenges that come with them. Essentially, people with disabilities are left to learn from trial and error.
Ways to Build Better Relationships
If you’re struggling to make and foster meaningful relationships in your life due to being deaf or hard of hearing, try these helpful techniques:
Build on the Relationships You Do Have
Sometimes we need to rebuild our courage before putting ourselves out there, and that’s okay. Start with any existing friends you may have as well as family. Be honest with them about your challenges and concerns, and try to engage them more.
Ask someone out to a quiet place for coffee. Practice engaging in conversation with people you feel comfortable with so you don’t have to feel shy about making mistakes.
Join Groups or Events for the Hearing Impaired
These days there is an organization for everything. Search online for any groups or events for the hearing impaired near you and get involved.
There are also several online communities geared toward others who share similar impairments. These can be a great forum express yourself in, share your unique challenges, and talk to others who can empathize and understand.
Be Honest about Your Impairment with Others
When you engage with others who don’t have or understand your hearing impairment, don’t be shy about explaining it to them. Most people want to engage with you, but may be timid about not knowing how to do so.
Take the initiative. Kindly explain what makes communication easier for you. Speak up if you need to switch seats or shift to somewhere quieter in order to follow a conversation.
You may be pleasantly surprised by how many people are more than willing to accommodate.
Start Making Relatable Connections Now
Today, a social life is only a click away.
Engage in a safe community for individuals who share similar challenges. Sign up for a Special Bridge Membership to join a private online group where you can meet and build relationships that are romantic or platonic.