I am wondering if you could help me. I am employed at a private school in Scotland, and feel I am being picked on by one of the management team. He said I was shouting at him, as I did not have my hearing aid in at the time due to wearing ear muffs in the school laboratory which meant I could not hear myself speaking at the right level. He has now given me a warning as he obviously does not realise that I speak louder when I do not have them in at the time. He also complains that I don’t look up when he calls me. Please could you give me some advice as how to address this problem and stop it from happening again
I am puzzled by your email. My first question would to be to ask: did this person interview you? If so, he must have known about your hearing problems. If not, who is your line manager (if you have one)? Have you and your manager explained your hearing loss to all the staff? Maybe add it as an item on the meeting agenda?
In the meantime, speak to the person who you feel is picking on you. Explain why you did not hear him, and that it would help if he found a gentler way to attract your attention when you have your ear muffs on, so you know he is talking to you.
Show him how to do that; hearing people really dislike going up to someone and touching them. Do you want him to walk up to you? Do you want him to tell the nearest person to you to tap you on the shoulder for him?
Be very specific. Hearing people can’t read our minds. Explain that as well as not being able to hear him calling you, you can’t hear yourself, and so you will tend to speak louder than you would normally. Perhaps you could agree to take your ear muffs off – asking him to give you a minute – so you can hear yourself speak better.
Again have some discussion. If he gets impatient – and lots of people do – then suggest you both sit down with someone else after school and go through the issues. You should then relay this conversation to your line manager and take it from there.
Do get in touch with me again if you want so that we can try and crack this problem for you.