After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Hearing and Experiencing

Posted on November 11, 2011
Filed Under Technology | Leave a Comment

Two people I’m close to, my wife and Dennis Owen, my colleague here at Encore, now have hearing aids and today’s high-tech models, though expensive, seem capable of rendering sounds pretty well.

Like any serious technology, though, hearing aids aren’t to be trifled with. Possibly for that reason, the Best Buy stores recently removed a “hearing amplification device” (it looks like an earpiece hearing aid) from their website after only a month of sales and unhappy feedback from the audiology community. (Best Buy isn’t saying what prompted its move, the American Academy of Audiology advises.)

In any event, in surfing for information on hearing challenges and aids, I’ve come upon “Emma’s Story,” a page on a UK website on labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection. The writer describes it as an illness “where you ‘look fine,'” when you aren’t fine.

“Inner ear dizziness,” Emma writes, “is a very strange symptom.” People think of dizziness simply as lightheadedness that occurs in “spells” and isn’t much to be concerned about. Not so, but how would you know if you’re not experiencing it?

Which is actually the point of this post. It’s darned hard to walk in someone else’s shoes, whatever condition he or she may be experiencing or sorting through. The ability to identify with what someone else is feeling is known as empathy, and it’s not an overly abundant trait.

Sensitivity to what others may be experiencing can be focused a bit by the presence of a well-engineered device like a hearing aid (though the idea is to make them inobtrusive). But suppose we managed to travel through life unusually sensitive to what others may be experiencing, learning from them and applauding them for their gains. Those are tales worth telling, and hearing, for everyone.

“I have learned to be more compassionate,” Emma writes. “I realised that because I look and sound fine, sometimes people can only relate to what they see or what they’ve gone through themselves, or what they THINK they know.”

Yes, what we think we know isn’t all we should be aware of. Being mindful of the rest takes real attentiveness. – Doug Bedell


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