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The Smile and Nod: What did you just say yes to?

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One of the first cultural shifts I experienced when I moved to Houston 18 years ago from NYC was the ubiquitous smile and nod when passing strangers in the street, often followed by a cheerful greeting, and sometimes even by an entire conversation. What a refreshing positive social connection the smile and nod can engender!

However, when the smile and nod occurs repeatedly in conversation because someone had no idea what was just said, the result can be anything but positive, and can sometimes even get you into trouble.

Seinfeld Discovers the Dangers of the Smile and Nod

In this “Puffy Shirt” episode, Jerry unwittingly agrees to wear a flouncy ruffled pirate shirt on the Today Show when he nods and says “uh huh” to a question posed by Kramer’s low-talking girlfriend.

It may seem less embarrassing to smile and nod than call attention to yourself by asking for repetition, admit you did not hear, or seek treatment for your hearing loss. However, The Smile and Nod often leads to embarrassing moments when it becomes obvious to all those around you that you did not hear what was said. Consider the following scenarios:

“What time is the meeting scheduled?” *Smile and Nod*

“So what do you do for work?” *Smile and Nod*

 “Where is your favorite vacation spot?” *Smile and Nod*

“Did you hear what I just said?” *Smile and Nod*

Avoid the Puffy Shirt

Here are three suggestions for avoiding an embarrassing “puffy shirt” episode:

1) If everyone you encounter seems to be a mumbler, or a “low talker”, consider the possibility that you may have hearing loss, and seek diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Hearing loss is usually more conspicuous than hearing aids. Properly fitted hearing devices enable you to engage in conversation with less effort, and will greatly improve the quality of your life.  If you know someone who performs the Smile and Nod often, gently suggest that he or she check their hearing. You might just be the one to start their journey to a better quality of life.

2) Be assertive and upfront about your hearing loss. This can alert people that you are not ignoring them, or mad at them, or mentally challenged; but rather, you do not hear them. Educate people to face you when speaking, speak more slowly but not more loudly, and re-phrase rather than repeat when you do not catch what was said.

3) If you do wear hearing aids, commit to regular maintenance and hearing re-checks. Even a slight change in your hearing can contribute to listening fatigue if your hearing aids are not tuned precisely for your current hearing levels. Re-calibration of your hearing aids on a regular basis helps ensure that you are part of the conversation again.

Tired of the Smile and Nod? Call The Center for Audiology’s Houston, TX or Pearland, TX locations to start your journey to better hearing today!