The common sterotype of people with hearing loss is that they SPEAK TOO LOUDLY!!! in order to hear their own voices; for me, though, the problem is starting conversations just a bit too quietly to be easily understood. How can I fix this?
: I'm 31. ~7 years ago I was diagnosed with bilateral, "mild to moderately severe" sensorineural hearing loss and since then I've worn hearing aids every day at work. I don't wear them while commuting (where I prefer headphones to block out the subway squeal and other noises) and also typically not at home (to give my ears a break, because I have trouble with infections/congestion, and not a little bit because I can't be bothered to put them back on when I get home after my commute).
My hearing loss is most troublesome with regard to speech in environments with competing voices, music, or background noise from ventilation systems, or when the speaker's English is accented. For the most part, though, I hear OK thanks to my hearing aids "out in the wild".
: For much of my life, but increasingly lately, I've had trouble starting off conversation at the right volume. Whenever this happens I'm too quiet
, the other person needs me to repeat myself, I do so a little more loudly, and then we're off to the races. It's frustrating because without fail I feel like the first time was totally the right volume "in my head". I feel like I'm speaking clearly and appropriately, and the second attempt doesn't usually feel like I'm talking that much more loudly, either.
Reflecting on this recently, I came up with a few images from my childhood of being scolded in grade school for "yelling" in class when I wasn't meaning to do so, apologizing to teachers, them saying something like, "OK, but you just need to be more aware of how loud your voice can be". I understand that this is probably a normal childhood experience, but since I didn't know about my hearing loss until much later (and I am told the hearing loss was likely there all along, not getting worse over time), it's possible I was having trouble with the volume of my voice in the other
direction back then and ended up habitually over-compensating by learning to talk just a bit too quietly in social situations... and now, I could be pushing it down further by only wearing my hearing aids half the day, affecting my perception of the relative loudness of the environment and the sound of my own voice "in my head".
When I was younger, I might have bought the idea that not "speaking up" was a matter of confidence - but this affects me as much or more among friends and in comfortable settings as it does when stress might plausibly be a relevant factor.
I raised this with my GP once a couple of years ago, in terms of a referral for speech therapy when we were discussing a related matter, and he didn't seem to think it was much of a problem (i.e., he could hear me well enough). But that now I'm finding myself literally saying to my wife - "Oh man, again? Was I really
talking that quietly?" after I have to repeat myself to her (as though she's the one with the hearing loss, not me) I feel like revisiting it.
All of the information I can find online about voice volume and hearing loss is geared toward convincing loud-talkers (like your boomer parents) that they have hearing loss, so it isn't really much help.
Does anyone have any experience with this? I've read the good advice here
about voice training, but wonder about the hearing aspect. Also, I really don't have any spare cash for a series of sessions with a non-insured/non-medicalized route like "voice training" or "coaching" right now because of student loans and debt from (wait for it) hearing aids. I'm going to try wearing my hearing aids more at home to see if it helps, but anything I can try to do more actively would be much appreciated.