People who speak softly P*$$ ME OFF!

This is a new phenomenon but I’m currently teaching a small class with only four people in a small hotel meeting room. I don’t experience this normally but these people all seem to just speak softly and I’m constantly saying “HUH???” Because I don’t normally experience this, I think they are responsible for the gap in communication when they’ve repeatedly heard me says “WHAT?” and they don’t speak up. I took my wife to the doctor recently and in that little exam room the MD seemed so meek and timid that he couldn’t speak to where his patient could hear him. That’s unprofessional IMHO and I think people should be aware of whether they are communicating effectively or not.

(steps down from soapbox)

While people who speak softly can definitely be frustrating…are you wearing hearing aids??? You have a moderate hearing loss which would definitely make it seem as if people who are speaking in a perfectly normal volume voice are speaking more softly then they truly are. If you are wearing hearing aids, perhaps they need to be adjusted somewhat…I have seen a lot of patients walking around on 80 and 90% of target settings complaining that people are not talking loud enough simply because their hearing aids are set too low.

Just something to think about.

The reason that I’m on this forum is because I know I have hearing loss. I tried CIC’s and am now waiting on BTE’s so I’m not currently wearing HA’s. However, my point is that, even if my hearing is not perfect, why bother talking if you’re not going to make the effort to communicate with the other person. I’m not the only person with a problem in that scenario. If you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result then I’ve got a bridge in Arizona I want to sell you! If I say “huh?” or “what” several times to the same student, shouldn’t they clue in to the fact that our communication is not working and they need to stand closer, look at me when they talk, enunciate, speak louder… do SOMETHING different???

The MD I mentioned raised his voice for about 15 seconds and then reverted to his normal voice again. My wife, who has no hearing loss I know of, couldn’t hear him either. I guess people just tend to stick with what they are normally accustomed to until they have a motivating enough reason to change it.

You need to tell your students you have a hearing loss and they need to speak up so you can hear them. You could also tell them your HA are in for repair and without them you are having trouble hearing them and they need to speak louder. Nothing is worse than a soft talker! Good luck!

Get your hearing aids and then complain. While I can sympathize with your frustration you need to meet people half way and so far you haven’t done that. Most people don’t care about your hearing problem, nor do they understand it. It’s YOUR problem, not theirs. Went to motor vehicle a couple of years ago and the woman refused to speak up. My wife was there and she was trying to help me but this woman had the nerve to tell my wife that she was interfering. The woman standing next to her, behind the counter, even said you have to speak up dear he’s hard of hearing. All to no avail. I think there should be a law that once you explain your situation and you are ignored you should be allowed to climb over the counter and strangle the person.:eek: Get your hearing aids. Then you can complain all you want, although it probably won’t matter.

I DID tell them that right from the beginning! I know to do that from past experience.

I told the MD the same thing but they all seem to revert to their comfort zone in short order. This causes me to have another thought… if my employer is obligated to accommodate my disability, should they provide my HA’s?? :smiley:

I’m just blowing off steam, pay no attention! :stuck_out_tongue:

Many states have offices of vocational rehabilitation that do provide hearing aids to those working/in search of work…I see probably 2-5 a month who get hearing aids I would normally sell at $4600/pair for nothing.

Precisely. Moreover, many people are convinced that hearing aids eliminates all hearing problems.

I tried to explain my problems to my colleagues at the office. I can’t complain, they listened patiently, but that’s about all :smiley:

I think it’s a perception issue for those people who can’t seem to speak up. I think they are the same as the folk who would talk very loudly when they have an MP3 player playing at volume.

If you were being shown a map or newspaper from a distance and you said you can’t see it, they would bring it closer to you so you can see the details. When it comes to hearing though…?

There are those who appear to see themselves as calm & serene and raising a voice is neither of those attributes so they wont do it. A very powerful identity issue there - and “don’t raise your voice!” can be a strong rule when growing up.

I guess many and varied are the reasons why some people wont talk with a little move vigour. They are the ones that I feel like vaulting the counter and strangling.

I appreciate that there are difficulties with different voices, but blaming people for being indistinct is pretty much as close to denial as you can get. You are moving the locus of the ‘fault’ away from your hearing loss to other people. Is it also their fault if they talk with an accent or a speech-trait that you find difficult to understand. However, if they work in customer services, it’s likely that they will have developed a level and delivery that works for ‘most’ people, without appearing to be too passive or aggressive.

Part of the rehabilitation of dealing with a loss is overcoming and acknowledging the effect the loss on your everyday life. Once you have moved through the denial and outrage you’ll be able to be positive about dealing with your loss. Taking it out on everybody else isn’t the answer: unfortunately.

Either that or you have to find the someone with a decent Baritone voice and good annunciation wherever you go :wink:

Soft voices are so hard to understand. One of my very dear friends speaks very softly. We recently went out to dinner and I needed her to repeat herself many, many times. And I know for a fact she was “speaking up” for my benefit, but in a restaurant setting her “loud” voice was still way too soft for me.

At home, I live with a mumbler. My son mumbles, he also has a hearing loss. Not sure if his own hearing loss plays a part in why he mumbles, but he mumbles. Drives me crazy. The other day I got the teen “I guess NOT” thing from him when we were in the kitchen. Apparently he had asked me to hand him something and I never heard him, damn mumbler.

I think it goes back to our disability being an invisiable disability. If they can’t see it, it simply doesn’t exist. Doesn’t matter what you say to them about it, if they can’'t see it then it’s not an issue for them. The only people I’ve encountered who will always speak louder when I ask them to is waitresses and waiters, maybe we need to pay people to talk louder? :wink:

I respectfully disagree. I’ve heard this “denial” angle before but I have experienced neither denial or outrage… it is what it is. The only thing that delayed me seeking HA’s was that I’m CHEAP and I wanted to “get by” as long as possible just to avoid the cost (which I can easily afford, that’s not it). Plus, some people I work with tell me “you don’t need HA’s” so that was part of my feedback. In the end, I see the handwriting on the wall but denial or outrage was not a barrier.

The reality is that SOME people DO talk softly and seem to be unaware or unconcerned if they are not communicating adequately. Communication is a two way street. If I express my inability to hear them, I have shown that I’m trying to bridge the gap. If they continue to talk in their mousy voice, that has nothing to do with me being in denial. They are responsible for the gap in communication.

This morning, I was in a room with about 25 people all sitting around a big table. I could hear everyone just fine (no HA’s) because they all spoke “normally” as measured by the normal volume of most people. Yesterday, I was in a smaller room with fewer people and I couldn’t hear what most of them said because they were either very soft-voiced or would talk to me with their head down looking at the material in front of them. I don’t know how acoustics may have come into play but the rooms seemed to be of similar construction.

In the end, I’m sure that all these situations exist and there is no single problem or answer but I don’t think it’s appropriate to stereotype everyone with hearing loss (especially me! ;)) as being in denial about it if they believe that others could meet them half way and speak up, face you when they speak, at least be in the same room, enunciate, etc. That’s simply not true!

In terms of Normal: you might want to look up something called the ‘Lombard Effect’

It wasn’t a stereotype. It is an observable rehabilitation step, some people transition these very quickly, some people need longer.

I have one further question about these situations, would they have provided any hearing issues for you when you were, say, 16-25 years old?

What I’ve found with soft talkers is they usually have excellent and I mean excellent hearing. A close friend of mine is one of the softest speakers I know, when he was taking his physical for the draft during the Vietnam era, his hearing was so good an officer told him "with his hearing he wanted him at the point because he could hear the enemy first ,needless to say he got a deferment by going to college. I have several other friends that speak softer than the average person and all have excellent hearing. I’ve also found it 's almost impossible to get them to speak louder for any length of time because they gradually drift back to their soft speaking voice. I don’t have a meter but I would be willing to bet they speak 10-20 db softer than everyone else. Just my 2 cents.

People telling you that you don’t need aids is just an excuse. You’re the one with the hearing problem, you’re test results clearly show that. It’s just a tad self centered to now expect everyone to adjust to your situation because you’re too cheap to do anything about it yourself. A lot of people out there need aids but can’t afford them. Your attitude is beginning to tick me off.:mad:

Interesting thread…

I understand what you’re saying Um bongo, and there can be some folk who are going to be in denial about hearing loss - but I would not expect this forum to be a place where there are many folk in denial. Resistant, reluctant, frustrated some are for sure - and that’s just me!

If I could make a comparison: If you are in a bar and having a drink with no ice in it (and you like ice) and you ask the bar-person for some ice in the next round but it doesn’t arrive… you might think they mis-heared, don’t give a monkey’s or some another explanation. For me, it’s similar to that.

It’s a simple request: Please speak up. They don’t. They can be very helpful with other requests but increasing the dB on their voice does not seem to be possible. I work with someone like that, and notably, as seb said, they have excellent hearing (thanks for the 2 cents.)

The ‘Lombard Effect’ presented by Um bongo is so relevant. Some folk don’t seem to have an external reference so when listening to an mp3 player they will talk loudly to make themselves more audible to themselves. The ability to second or third position themselves to other’s auditory perspective seems to be a very challenging activity.

I’m getting used to it and it’s like going out in the car and getting cut up by someone - why get upset? As if it doesn’t happen every time you go out in the car! Every time!

So for my hearing, going to work or out and about, some people are not given to appreciating the difficulties I’m having and are not helpful, even when I specifically request it. Shame. Frustrating, yes. Getting used to it, yes. [Still given to thumping them sometimes :wink: ]

Have to agree with Hask on this one…to blame others for not speaking up is not right.

When I was 16 - 25 and I was conversing with someone who wasn’t hearing me, I would have made the effort to help them out in some way such as speaking more loudly. To me, it’s called common courtesy. I don’t understand this insistence on TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY in effective communication being with the person who has hearing loss.


If I’m walking down the street and a blind person with a cane is coming toward me, I guess I’m not supposed to make any effort to accommodate successful negotiation of us crossing paths. THEY are the one who can’t see, why should I go out of my way to make the transition better. That would be consistent with your position regarding my frustration with people who won’t try to communicate more effectively which has been my point all along.

Whose excuse? They don’t need an excuse for expressing their opinion so that leaves only me which indicates you think I’m making an excuse. My CIC’s are being returned and I’m waiting on new BTE’s so where is the excuse??? Please explain!