Hearing Health Blog

Group of coworkers at office holiday party despite hearing loss

You get to your company’s annual holiday party and you’re instantly bombarded by noise. You can feel the beat of the music, the thrum of shouted conversations, and the click of glasses.

You’re not enjoying it at all.

You can’t hear anything in this loud setting. You can’t keep up with conversations, you can’t hear the punch line of any joke, and you’re completely disoriented. How can this be enjoyable for anyone? But then you look around and see that you’re the only one that seems to be having difficulty.

For people who suffer from hearing loss, this most likely sounds familiar. Distinct stressors can be introduced at a holiday office party and for somebody with hearing loss, that can make it a solitary, dark event. But don’t worry! This little survival guide can help you make it through your next holiday party unscathed (and maybe even have some fun at the same time).

Holiday parties can be stressful, here’s why

Even when you don’t have hearing loss, holiday parties are a unique blend of stress and fun (especially if you’re an introvert). If you struggle to hear when there is a lot of background noise, holiday parties come with unique stressors.

First and foremost is the noise. Think about it like this: Holiday parties are your chance to loosen your tie and cut loose. This means they are usually fairly noisy affairs, with everyone talking over each other all at once. Could alcohol be a factor here? absolutely. But it can also be really loud at dry office parties.

Some interference is created by this, particularly for individuals with hearing loss. That’s because:

  • Office parties include dozens of people all talking simultaneously. It’s not easy to isolate one voice from many when you have hearing loss.
  • Talking, music, clinking dishes, laughing, all in the background. Your brain doesn’t always get enough information to isolate voices.
  • Indoor gatherings tend to boost the noise of crowds, meaning an indoor office party is even tougher on your ears when you are dealing with hearing loss.

This means anyone with hearing loss will have trouble picking up and following conversations. This might not sound like a very big deal at first.

So… What is the big deal?

The professional and networking aspect of things is where the big deal is. Even though office holiday parties are theoretically social events, they’re also professional events. At any rate, attendance is usually encouraged, so here we are. This means a couple of things:

  • You can network: It’s not unusual for individuals to network with co-workers from their own and other departments at these holiday parties. It’s a social event, but work will be discussed, so it’s also a networking event. You can use this event to make new connections. But it’s more challenging when you have hearing loss and can’t understand what’s happening because of the overwhelming noise.
  • You can feel isolated: Most people are reluctant to be the one that says “what?” constantly. Isolation and hearing loss frequently go hand and hand for this reason. Asking friends and family to repeat themselves is one thing but co-workers are a different story. Maybe you’re concerned they will think you’re incompetent. And that can harm your work reputation. So perhaps you simply avoid interaction instead. No one enjoys feeling left out.

You might not even recognize that you have hearing loss, which will make this an even bigger problem. Typically, one of the first indications of hearing loss is the inability to hear in crowded settings (such as office parties or crowded restaurants).

As a result, you might be alarmed that you’re having a tough time following the conversation. And you might be even more surprised that you’re the only one.

Hearing loss causes

So what is the cause of this? How does hearing loss develop? Typically, it’s caused by age or noise damage (or age and noise damage). Essentially, as you age, your ears likely experience repeated damage as a result of loud noises. The stereocilia (delicate hairs in your ears that detect vibrations) become damaged.

That injury is permanent. And your hearing will continue to get worse the more stereocilia that are damaged. Your best bet will be to safeguard your hearing while you still have it because this type of hearing loss is usually irreversible.

Knowing all that, there are ways you can make your holiday office party a little less unpleasant!

Tips to make your office party more fun

You don’t want to miss out on the fun and opportunities that come along with that office holiday party. So, when you’re in a loud environment, how can you hear better? You can make that office party better and more enjoyable with these tips:

  • Look at faces: And possibly even spend some time hanging around individuals who have really expressive faces or hand gestures. The more contextual clues you can get, the more you can fill in any gaps.
  • Take listening breaks: Take a 15 minute quiet break each hour. In this way, you can prevent yourself from becoming completely exhausted from straining to hear what’s happening.
  • Avoid drinking too many adult beverages: If your thinking starts to get a little fuzzy, it’s likely you’ll be unable to communicate successfully. The whole thing will be a lot easier if you take it easy on the drinking.
  • Try to read lips: This can take some practice (and good lighting). And you will probably never perfect this. But some gaps can be filled in with this technique.
  • Find a quieter place to have those conversations: Possibly try sitting on a couch or around a corner. When the ambient noise gets really loud, sitting behind stationary objects can give you little pockets that are slightly less loud.

Naturally, the best possible option is also one of the easiest.: invest in a pair of hearing aids. These hearing aids can be customized to your hearing needs, and they can also be discrete. Even if you pick larger hearing aids it will still be better than asking people to repeat themselves.

Get your hearing checked before the party

That’s why, if you can, it’s a good idea to get your hearing checked before the office holiday party. You might not have been to a party since before COVID and you don’t want hearing loss to sneak up and surprise you.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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