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Chapter 4: Crowded rooms

Section A - Crowded rooms (this includes situations where lots of people are expected to be together e.g. parties, theatre intervals, before and after meetings, pubs, restaurants, etc.)

This page contains :

A.g. Bluffing (Crowded rooms)
A.h. Ways of getting back into a conversation (Some will be relevant if you are trying to join a conversation) (Crowded rooms)
A.i. Looking after yourself and feeling OK (Crowded rooms)
A.j. Taking a break from conversation (Crowded rooms)
A.k. Talking (Crowded rooms)
A.l. Before the party (Crowded rooms)
A.m. Give your own party (Crowded rooms)
A.n. General
(Crowded rooms)

To see section A.a to A.f. click here.

 

A.g. Bluffing (Crowded rooms)

In some situations if the going gets tough some people feel that the only way to manage is to bluff. Everybody bluffs from time to time and quite a lot of hearing people say they bluff, so it is not something we should feel guilty about.

1. Some people say they try not to look panic struck. They try to look interested and use neutral phrases like "Really?", or "How interesting".

One person said, “I sometimes have to bluff. I smile, look interested and use a neutral phrases like "How true".”

2. Some people say that they look at the speaker’s expression and see if they can get the feel of what they are saying, even if they cannot follow it. They then try to say appropriate things in reply and chose an appropriate expression.

3. Some people said that if they lose track of what’s being said they wait and look at for an appropriate moment, after they’ve picked up the thread of the conversation, when they can join in again.

4. One person said that they do not give up as there is probably at least one helpful clear speaker there if only they could find them!

5. One person said, “I smile and hope that I will follow something and look suitably serious when it appears I need to. I look interested because most people love a good listener.”

6. You might find it helpful to remember quite a bit of what is said is unimportant. Does it really matter if the new carpet you’re being told about is grey or red?

However, a lot of people said they try never to bluff if it’s something that might be important.

7. One person said, “When I do grasp the conversation I make a comment to show that I am still there.”

8. I size people up and explain how to help me, I try to be open about not understanding and asking for repeats, but I bluff it out if people get angry or get impatient.

9. One person said, “I have been caught out sometimes when I’ve bluffed.  I try and laugh about it and say I didn’t like to stop them.  Most people don’t get annoyed, but try harder to make sure I understand in future.”

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A.h.  Ways of getting back into a conversation (some will be relevant if you are trying to join a conversation) (Crowded rooms)

1. Making a movement or drawing a chair forward causes a pause and draws attention to you.

2. Saying something like "I missed that" (which is something that hearing people say too) can bring you up to date again with the conversation.

3. Some people find that asking a question is a good way to get back into conversations.

4. Some people prefer to wait, watch and try to pick up the theme.

5. Another tactic is to ask a leading question.

6. Some people find it helpful to ask for a clue to the topic of conversation.

7. Some people said they wait for a pause and then change the topic or move the conversation on.

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A.i. Looking after yourself and feeling O.K. (Crowded rooms)

1. If you are finding a conversation difficult it may only be caused by those particular people; other people in other situations may be more helpful.  Don’t let a bad experience put you off in the future.

One person said “I think of each situation as a practice situation that will help me to manage better in the long term.”

2. Some people find it helpful to be prepared for difficulties and knocks and try not to get upset over what happens.

3. You might find it useful to remember that hearing people have problems hearing sometimes and have to ask for repeats.

4. Some people said they’ve found it useful to think that maybe it’s not their hearing loss that is the problem; it’s the noisy room, the speaker’s lack of clarity, the unlipreadability of the English language, etc.
 
5. Some people said they’d developed a thick skin and are now much more able to cope with any knocks they get.

6. One person said, “I try to have patience, because either they do not understand, or have forgotten I am deaf and they merely need reminding. Or they are horrible people and not worth talking to anyway.”

7. One person said that they try to keep a hopeful spirit.

8. One person said, “I go to enjoy myself - I enjoy the drink and the food and then if I have a talk it is a bonus.  This strategy gives me energy to try different approaches.”

9. Many people said it is helpful to try and relax, because tension and fear cause them to panic and this prevents them trying different strategies.  Being relaxed can make things seem easier.

10. It can be helpful to try not to let it get you down if you find a situation difficult.  A lot of people find that it gets easier to cope with the knocks as time goes on.

11. It is probably not helpful to dwell on situations that haven’t worked too well. Everybody has these sorts of situations at times, including hearing people. Deaf people have a better reason than most for them to happen and therefore they have less reason to blame themselves or get down about them.

12. One person said, “It is not easy, but I try to maintain my sense of being all right by laughing with people when they laugh at me because I misunderstand.  So many words look alike I make a lot of mistakes.”

13. Following conversation in crowds is very tiring and so lots of people find it helpful to take breaks. (See the following section A.j.)

14. One person said, “I've tried to learn to live with the fact that people talk to themselves as if I'm not there - I reason that they are embarrassed and do not know how to talk to deaf people.  I’ve learnt to laugh at the fact that they’d rather talk to themselves than try and help me to understand them.”

15. One person said, “If I am tired, or if it gets too much, I leave early and when I get home I relax into something I enjoy doing or have an early bedtime. I do not blame myself.”

16. Some people have found it helpful to see managing in groups as long term goals, and only stay a little while at first and then practise staying longer and longer at future crowded places.

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A.j. Taking a break from conversation (Crowded rooms)

1. Some people get involved and offer to help with the food and the drinks, etc.

2. If you are feeling really tired why not take a little or a long break. Helping with the food or washing up, or nipping off to the toilet, or walking in the garden, etc, can all help to reduce the intense strain of concentration and allow you to come back feeling refreshed.

3. Sometimes there are leaflets or books, etc, to read, though reading at a party can be more of a problem as some people may be consider it rude.

4.  One person said, “If there are pictures on the walls, I go and look at them.  I don’t always get much of a break as the host/hostess will often come and start a conversation about them.”

5.  One person said, “If it all gets a bit much for me at the family party I offer to take the children to the park or the dogs for a walk.”

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A.k. Talking (Crowded rooms)

1. One deaf person suggested: If the people you are speaking to are difficult to follow, do not appear to hog the conversation - but you can still do most of the talking! After all if you do not talk they will do the talking and that will leave you with all the lipreading. So, the talker might as well be you!

2. Some people find it useful to lead the conversation to a topic that they know about so that hopefully when the others talk they will have an idea of what they are talking about.

3. Some people find that if they ask the questions this often gives them more control over the conversation.

4. Some people said that they avoid asking people where they live, because place names are difficult to lipread. They choose subjects such as the speaker’s job or family or hobby.

5. Another person said, “I try not to ask about their families unless I already know them as I find it difficult to lipread names and children’s ages.”

6.  Some people say that if they can, they try to start the conversation so that they know what the topic is.

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A.L. Before the party (Crowded rooms)

1. Some people find it helpful to ask the host or hostess (if they know them well enough) beforehand for the names of the people who will be there and a little about them. They find it easier to have a conversation if they have a starting point.

2. Some people find it useful to explain their needs to the host/hostess, e.g. the light, background noise, helpful speakers, etc. 

3. One person said, “If I’ve gone on my own I always try to prepare an excuse in case I feel a little tired or it’s not interesting.”

4. One person said, “If I’ve gone with someone else I make sure they know how best to communicate with me in noisy and dim environments.”

5. A lot of people said they try to arrive a little early so they can find the best place for them to sit/stand.

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A.m. Give your own party (Crowded rooms)

You could give your own party and organise it in the way that is best for you by controlling the situation.

1. You can control numbers and only ask as many people as you feel comfortable with.

2. You could choose people you like or who you feel talk clearly and who are considerate.

3. Some people have found it helpful to put the food in the kitchen or hall but not in the party room to reduce background noise.

4. Several people said they’d found that polystyrene plates and plastic cutlery make less noise.

Other suggestions for lessening the background noise at parties:

  • Wooden serving dishes, forks and spoons, etc, are also quieter and look attractive.
  • A thick tablecloth with felt or newspaper underneath will deaden the clatter of dishes.
  • Paper coasters or folded paper table napkins between cup and saucer deadens the sound.
  • It’s not usually necessary to put teaspoons on every saucer. Using mugs rather than cups and saucers may help to cut down on noise.
  • Thick carpets, soft chairs and sofas and heavy curtains absorb echo and help to deaden the background noise.

5. One person said that they try to keep the lighting level up and ban the music. They remove the plug beforehand if necessary!

6. Some people said that they had found it a good idea not to give large parties.

7. Some people said that if it is a dinner party, they arrange the guests around the table to suit their deafness and not anything else. Putting place names may help. If you decide to try this strategy you may wish to explain why people are sitting where they sitting.

8. One person said, “If people are talking amongst themselves and cannot be heard I just smile and go round offering food and topping up glasses. If they want to talk to me I guide them into the hall or kitchen where they can talk to me on a one-to-one basis.”

9. Some people find they need to remind their guests that they are deaf/hard of hearing and explain to the guests how they can include them (e.g. face me, talk a little slower, etc).

10. One lady said, “If people leave me out either I or my husband reminds them to talk to me.”

11. One person said, “I have a laminated copy of my House Rules on display near the front door.  It says things like: please make sure I am looking at you when you speak and remember I can’t see through brick walls!  The rules are accompanied by some amusing pictures and people don’t seem to take offence with them.”

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A.n. General (Crowded rooms)

1. It can be useful to have a specific task arranged for yourself. E.g. handing round the drinks or niblets, or selling the raffle tickets, etc. This introduces you to people and may help you to start a conversation. (You will also be able to size everyone up to see who might be good to talk to.)

2. Some people find that drinking may affect their hearing and lipreading so try not to over-do it.

Unfortunately drinking often also affects other peoples' speech which may make them more difficult to lipread and hear.

3. One person said, “I don't ask questions in a place I know I won't be able to hear a reply. I find a quiet place.”

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