At the last speechreading class, the group had a fantastic conversation about the experience of missing of a joke. For anyone, with or without a hearing loss, having a joke repeated often loses the effect. Having it repeated numerous times can make it awkward. If you are struggling to hear key words or are missing context, it just isn’t funny after the third time.
The group started to discuss what to do in this situation. Do you just pretend you understood and laugh? No, because one can always tell. Do you just keep having the person repeat it with everyone watching, waiting for you to get the punchline? No, as it just loses meaning and is awkward. Do you throw your hands up, say “whatever” and walk away? No, then everyone leaves with a bad taste in their mouth.
What is the graceful and polite way of dealing with a missed joke? Here is what the group discussed:
- Have it repeated – you might catch it the second time if you ask for specific details you missed.
- Make sure you tell the group and the speaker that you have hearing loss. Also, mention that you need them to slow down so you can speechread.
- If you are getting worked up and frustrated, most likely people can tell on your face. Just politely say that you can’t make it out and are getting frustrated with yourself. If you need a breather, say you need a breather.
- The important thing is not to make the speaker feel guilty. Calmly say that you need to take a few breaths, refresh and you’ll be back in a few minutes. This shows that it is about you and not about them.
The situation is no one’s fault. The party might be loud and most likely, everyone is shouting and missing things. The group discussed about how it is a good communication strategy to let the other person know that it’s not them, it’s your hearing loss. Everyone wants to walk away knowing exactly what happened. You don’t want the person going to bed and wondering – are my jokes that bad? Did I offend them? No, they just missed it.
Now this person knows that they just need to speak clearly so that you can lip-read their hilarious jokes.