Ask the Chicken: I am being left out at work and treated as though I’m stupid. Can you help?

Posted on October 27, 2016

In an uncertain world, there’s one person you can turn to for dependable advice: the limping chicken, offering sensible advice for all kinds of common deaf-related problems from its coop. 

A reader writes:

Can you help me ?
I am working in an Office where as I am Deaf it is hard to hear group discussions or chit chats.
I have told my Manager without any luck.
Also someone who I thought was a friend has started copying the same attitude as one of the colleage who decide she hates me and that I am unable to do my job, as I am stupid, but I have to do more work than them to prove I am as good as them !  Is this right…
This is making me feel inadequate and isolated and feeling stupid and also not been informed of changes happening.  This is starting to make me feel ill and very very isolated and down,  the problem that there are more than one person like this and it puts me in the minority!   Can that be right????  Yes it would be easier to quit the job, but then I would be worst off!  And they would not know or learn any different.
Can you help??
Thank you for your email, it sounds like you are in a very difficult situation at work, which is making you feel isolated, and left out. Worse, you say it is making you feel ‘stupid.’
The fact is that deafness and ‘stupidity’ are often confused by people, and it’s a big bug bear of mine. People seem to think that if we miss some information, it’s because we are ‘slow on the uptake’ rather than simply, deaf.
How can we know what we can’t hear?
It’s clear that you need your colleagues to change their attitude. You say your boss has not been helpful, but would they consider arranging a Deaf Awareness class for your team, so they can all understand how to communicate with you?
Another thought is whether you have any communication support at work – have you applied for Access to Work? A BSL interpreter or a lipreader would help you to access important information. Their presence in your office might also be a reminder of the fact of your deafness.
You could also ask your colleagues to send work information in round-robin emails so that you know what is happening.
Another thought I have is that, since you have more than one colleague who seems to be treating you this way, whether you might be able to change their attitudes directly? Perhaps you could ask one colleague for a coffee in private, where you could express how you are feeling at work.
I hope some of the above suggestions help, but it does sound like a very difficult situation and I would also recommend contacting your work’s HR department about these issues if they do not improve, and also potentially contacting Deaf charities and organisations for their advice and support.

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Posted in: ask the chicken