Debbie Lousberg is an advocate for effective communication in the workplace – with hearing loss or not. She consults and speaks regularly to business professionals and her program, Everyone Wants to Hear You, is an accredited program for healthcare professionals in their continuing education. We interviewed Debbie about her hearing loss story and how she helps others.
Tell me about your hearing loss story. When did you first realize that you had hearing loss?
Hearing loss was the last thing on my mind when I started having trouble hearing people speak from short distances away, like from a doorway to my desk or across a small conference room. I was in the midst of a busy career about 12 years ago, managing an onsite staffing operation and preparing for a promotion to a national level position. At the time, I thought I had a head cold with stuffy ears so off I went to the doctor who gave me a prescription and suggested a trip to the Audiology department if the medication didn’t work. I thought surely the medicine would do the trick. It didn’t. I have a vivid memory of the ENT doctor telling me I needed hearing aids, followed by a sobbing phone call to my husband about the news.
How long did it take you to get your first hearing aids?
After the shock subsided and further research and opinions agreed with the diagnosis, it was very clear I needed a solution. I got my first pair of aids within 6 months of that first doctor’s visit. They were the smallest pair available (so as to keep this new condition invisible to others), but, in hindsight, not necessarily the best for my hearing and work situations.
How did you arrive at ReSound Verso?
Before ReSound Verso, I’d had 2 pairs – the first pair purchased because of their small size (CIC), the second pair purchased based on price. Although both helped me function better, neither were high performance. I was tired of feeling the lack of confidence and detachment that comes with not being able to communicate well. I decided that pair #3 must be high quality and high performance, especially since I was pursuing my dream of being a speaker and workshop facilitator. I’d met an audiologist over the years I really liked, so made an appointment to see her in December 2012. After discussing my needs and particular communication situations, she recommended ReSound Verso.
Why has Verso made a difference for you? And how?
My confidence is back, and has grown immensely. I no longer fret about upcoming hearing situations. I have 4 different programs, volume control, and trust in my quality devices that I’ll hear well in most any situation. I use the ReSound Unite Phone Clip with my iPhone and even have the ReSound app for volume and program control!
What do you do to spread awareness of hearing loss?
In addition to having quality hearing aids, I do my best to hear and communicate well. When I’m in challenging situations, I tell my communication partners what I need from them (to speak up, enunciate, look at me, move to a quiet corner, etc.), and many times I tell them why. I take opportunities to inform people that hearing loss is widespread, and affects people of all ages, and is especially growing in younger age groups. I remind them it is not an age-related issue and there are probably people in their circles with hearing loss they aren’t even aware of. I learned more about hearing loss in general through the Hearing Loss Support Specialist program (offered by Hearing Loss Association of America) and stay up on hearing loss news so I can share with others through speaking and writing.
What kinds of topics do you speak on?
Effective Communication in the Workplace is one of my topics, with special emphasis on Hearing Loss. I created a 6-hour workshop called Everyone Wants to Hear You for nurses and other medical professionals to educate them on the subject while improving their own communication skills. Effective skills help everyone (especially patients) regardless of hearing ability.
I speak frequently about positive thinking and attitude, and have a series of Success Workshops, which include modules on Leadership, Self-Confidence, Goal Setting, Attitude, Managing Change, and of course Communication!
Where have you spoken?
I have spoken to many San Diego area groups such as Project Management Institute, Rotary Clubs, Payroll Association, Soroptimist, churches, and various networking groups. I presented my workshop, Everyone Wants to Hear You, to my dentist’s office staff and have been encouraged about making more presentations to healthcare organizations.
Tell me about your book:
Hearing loss has greatly impacted my work life and confidence in being an effective professional and contributor to the business world. I wrote this book to help people in the workplace (with hearing loss or not) increase awareness about their own or others’ hearing loss, and develop better communication skills to benefit everyone they come in contact with. Reclaiming Your Confidence: Real Life Tips for Managing Hearing Loss at Work includes suggestions for a variety of work situations, stories, communication tips and more. It is available on my website, www.EveryoneWantstoHearYou.com.