My Coworkers Appear Frustrated with My Disability

It’s just a common, minor handicap–so why does it frustrate staff so much?

Question: “I wear a hearing aid, but still I often have the need to ask co-workers to repeat things. They all know about my handicap but naturally they don’t always remember to speak a little louder until I ask them to. I sense that a lot of them find it very aggravating to have to repeat sentences when they talk to me, and sometimes I get a polite ‘Oh, never mind, it’s not that important,’ which is very frustrating. I wonder why people don’t have a little more patience with this disability, and what I can do to adapt and not get on their nerves.” – Miranda, Digital Archivist

Have you ever thought, “why are my coworkers so frustrated with my disability” or perhaps have another side of the story you’d like to share?

See comments below, and send your own question to [email protected].

Hearing issues are difficult because there are not always visible clues that alert someone to they need to behave differently. And none of us want to walk around with a sign saying Treat Me Differently! – D. Richards

I too wear hearing aids and have a hard time hearing soft spoken coworkers. I recently purchased new hearing aids (not always an option) that have three settings. I can easily turn them up or down via these settings as well as turn the volume up and down. We cannot do anything about someone else’s reaction to our disability, but we can choose to realize that it is their problem and not let it frustrate us. I hope this encourages you a bit. – J. Cram

I refuse to use the word disability. An acquaintance made the comment once about her daughter, clarifying for me that her teenage daughter has disabilities. There was almost a negative connotation and visible shrinking implied with her comment – as though she’d been shunned by people in the past for having a child that wasn’t ‘normal’ in the eyes of majority public. My heart broke for her. I’ve seen her Facebook posts, I’ve seen her family, so I knew what she was trying to tell me. I gave her a hug and told her she doesn’t have disabilities. She has different abilities. I got one of the nicest hugs back. – Polly

More conversation at Business Management Daily.


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3 thoughts on “My Coworkers Appear Frustrated with My Disability”

  1. I tell people I am “hearing impaired”, which I’ve been saying for over 20 years. (My loss came mid-career .) When I was fitted for my first aid, it was recommended to me that I let others know this too. I am certain to face them when they are speaking and ask them to offer me the same courtesy. I also ask the speaker to give me another or different word for what they’re saying, if I’m not clear about it. It’s often about the word itself versus the “loudness” level. In the end, life is nothing more than a matter of adjustments and everyone must do it. Who knows, you might be the one who reminds another of how you handled your issue when it becomes theirs…take heart, it will eventually.

  2. It’s interesting that the writer says that “I sense that a lot of them find it very aggravating…”. Often I find that when I think I’m sensing something it’s more my feeling then it is theirs. Unless someone tells you directly that they are frustrated with the fact that you can’t hear them don’t assume they are aggravated. If they don’t repeat what they were saying, then it wasn’t worth hearing the first time! People who don’t pay attention to or have patience with other co-workers disabilities have issues of their own that need to be worked on.

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