How to Be Assertive to Others About Tinnitus without Being Called a Weirdo or Rude?

Discussion in 'Support' started by jdjd09, Nov 22, 2020 at 3:48 AM.

    1. jdjd09

      jdjd09 Member

      So, basically, I keep coming into situations with strangers where they are being loud and could hurt my hearing. Examples could be when I'm getting a haircut and the barber is talking loud near my head and I just have to sit there uncomfortably and take it.

      How do I defend myself in these situations without coming off as a weirdo or rude? Most people have NO IDEA WTF this condition is and/or don't get why it's a big deal.

      For example, if I put my earplugs in while the barber is doing that, they will think I'm being a rude a-hole and won't get why I'm doing it. I don't want to sit their for 5 minutes explaining my personal health condition either (as they probably either won't care, or won't get why it's a big deal). If I don't do that and ask them to stop talking loudly by my ear, then they also will think I'm being rude and won't get it.

      Like, I literally don't know how to handle other people with this issue. I don't know how to be assertive at all without coming off as rude or a weirdo.

      Can someone please help me? I keep getting into these situations and frankly confrontation and being assertive in these situations is making me very uncomfortable to the point that I just don't say anything and it leads to it being a bad thing.

      Can someone who is good with this (or at least does something) explain to me how to assert myself without coming off as rude or weird?
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      First of all, your rule of thumb should be to Do Whatever It Takes to protect your ears. The benefit of avoiding a stranger thinking that you are a weirdo, isn't worth the cost of a month (or even a lifetime) of torment.

      If you just tell the others that you have a medical problem with your ears without going into any detail, and then ask them to reduce the noise, then I don't think anyone will think that you are being weird. But like I said, them thinking that is a small price to pay to protect your health.
      All you need to say is one sentence, that you are suffering from a medical condition.
      As long as they actually stop doing the things that can permanently ruin your health, it would be totally worth it - who cares what they think? In other words, the reason to care what others think about you is to ensure that they won't harm you. Here they are already potentially harming you, so things can only improve if you speak up.
      If your shyness is overwhelming (and I understand exactly how you feel), then what you will need to do is get away from the noise. For example, if you see that the barber is talkative and you don't want to say anything, then just stand up, throw cash on a nearby desk and run out. I am being serious now - sitting there being exposed to noise that in the past had caused problems for you should NOT be even an option.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    3. DebInAustralia
      No Mood

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Advocate

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      30/12/13
      I know what you mean.

      If you gently and calmly explain your situation, I think they should appreciate how sensitive your ears are.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      @jdjd09

      I am sorry to hear of your situation and the difficulties that you are having. I suspect your over sensitivity to sound is caused by hyperacusis and overusing earplugs, is likely to make it more acute. Try and see an Audiologist that specialises in the treatment of tinnitus and hyperacusis.

      You are right people do not understand and being assertive, might be taken the wrong way but all depends how you do it. Explain about your tinnitus and that you're oversensitive to certain sounds and trying to find help with it. I said this to people when I had very severe tinnitus with hyperacusis 24 years ago. I found my ears hurt even during conversation and politely asked can they please lower their voice. I tried not to express this too often and wore earplugs when necessary but not too often.

      Seek treatment in the manner I have suggested. Click on the links below and read my posts that you might find helpful.
      Best of luck.

      Michael

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/hyperacusis-as-i-see-it.19174/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-a-personal-view.18668/

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/the-complexities-of-tinnitus-and-hyperacusis.25733/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/acquiring-a-positive-mindset.23969/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-and-the-negative-mindset.23705/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/the-habituation-process.20767/
       
      • Like Like x 1
    5. BobDigi
      Kick ass

      BobDigi Member

      Location:
      UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      5.6.14
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise
      I agree with jdjd09. But when I've had to use ear plugs or ear protection, or I need to leave somewhere because it's too loud, i simply say "sorry I've got a problem with my ears". No need to go explain yourself or justify your behaviour. "Sorry, I have a problem with my ears" is all you need!
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      jdjd09

      jdjd09 Member

      Thanks for the answers. First, I would say that it was a necessary thing that I needed to use earplugs in that situation. I’m sitting here just hoping no damage has been done and waiting to hear if I have problems. Frankly it’s terrifying sitting here hoping nothing happens and hoping it doesn’t get worse. This was not a situation though where it was simply me being sensitive to noise. I don’t wear earplugs everywhere I go, this isn’t hyperacusis situation. It was a situation I should have put earplugs in and didn’t.

      I just have a difficult time doing it after multiple negative instances related to this. I feel I partially lost my recent job due to boss thinking it’s weird I needed earplugs for large meetings or constantly asking them to turn conference calls down. Even though I did explain to him why I do it. People just don’t get it and think your some psychotic person.

      Next time I guess I’m going to have to just sit through the discomfort and just put in earplugs and say I’m having health issues with my ear.

      But it’s easier said than done. After multiple negative instances fork doing this from reactions from family members (who call me crazy for doing this and telling me I need to get over this and stop living in fear), to bosses firing me partially over it, and to strangers thinking it’s weird... I just have a difficult time standing up for myself. I live in a culture that is closed minded to anything that is out of the ordinary.

      Hell, many people here think people who wear masks while getting haircuts is weird during this pandemic.

      Overall, I just need some strategy to get over not caring what these people think anymore. I realize people are saying just do it. But I need some mental strategy because when I’m in the moment like this, even though my mind knows it’s wrong and I should do something, I lock up and then don’t do anything and it’s a bad situation.

      Does anyone have a strategy I can use to mentally get me to take action?

      PS: I have had tinnitus and mild hearing loss for four years in my 20s and early 30s for background. My tinnitus is pretty severe and can be heard at all times. Even with this, most the time I protect myself when needed. However, I still always somehow get into these one off situations and people think I’m weird and I for whatever reason freeze and give into peer pressure for whatever reason and have no explanation as to why or how to stop it.
       
    7. Psych
      Wishful

      Psych Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1989
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I understand your reticence to say anything, given what you've gone through already. Perhaps you could look on YouTube for some assertiveness training videos that look good to you. I think you'd do well with them, because you don't have any trouble expressing yourself clearly. Best wishes to you going forward, and please let us know how you get on!
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      jdjd09

      jdjd09 Member

      Does someone mind answering my follow up questions? I genuinely don’t know how to handle those questions.

      Here is the follow up:

      Overall, I just need some strategy to get over not caring what these people think anymore. I realize people are saying just do it. But I need some mental strategy because when I’m in the moment like this, even though my mind knows it’s wrong and I should do something, I lock up and then don’t do anything and it’s a bad situation.

      Does anyone have a strategy I can use to mentally get me to take action?
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      jdjd09

      jdjd09 Member

      So I have looked up a few, but not much has really clicked and doesn’t really address this unique situation. It usually addresses being assertive with normal stuff.

      Like how do you be assertive with this specific thing without feeling uncomfortable or weird and still do it?
       
    10. Psych
      Wishful

      Psych Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1989
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      It's probably like a trial-and-error process. You deserve to be comfortable in situations, and the assertiveness training will reiterate that in your mind, and get you used to standing up for yourself. You'll get better at it each time you try, and that will helps others accept the input more, so it's a win-win.
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You have had tinnitus for a while and clearly having some difficulty coping with it. You need to see an Audiologist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management, in order to help with your mental and emotional well-being. This will involve counselling and it's the reason I have advised you to read the posts in the links I have given you, so you understand the way tinnitus and hyperacusis can affect a person's life.

      Take your time and read them. You have had tinnitus for quite some time, so must realize this is not a quick fix and you need more help to get where you want to be.

      Michael
       
    12. Shizune
      Wishful

      Shizune Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      H: 6/2020 T: 7/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Chemical exposure, made worse with benzo withdrawal
      I'm a lot like you. I'm shy, not very assertive and I try not to pose as little issue to others as possible.

      I used to be part of a Hyperacusis group that frequently advocated pulling the disability card and/or calling discrimination or putting up a fuss if people still didn't get the hint. I'm talking like, "not accommodating people with disabilities is against this law and etc etc etc". A bit extreme for my tastes, but perhaps framing it as a disability or warning places you may go beforehand (via email, or phone if you can actually use one) would help. Nobody's going to be perfect sadly but I think people may be more apt to take something seriously if you say "disability" vs just saying "issue" or "condition".

      It's embarrassing to admit these things and out yourself, but at the end of the day, you may not see these people again in your life, but the damage they may potentially leave with you may last the rest of yours.
       

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