Speaking up when you can’t see faces – it’s all about asking so you are sure
With uncertain vision you lose the ability to make eye contact. Maybe you don’t recognize faces now. You aren’t sure when you are being spoken to – or listened to. If this is happening to you, you have to use words instead. You have to ask, so you’re certain.
Just about everyone hates to do this
It’s tough to begin, because recognizing people and making contact with your eyes is such a basic part of socializing, and having to ask makes you feel stupid. But you won’t feel smart if you don’t know who you are talking to. And with practice it does get easier. If you ask at the beginning, you have set the stage for a conversation you can handle.
Once you find the will to get started, it’s simple because you have already done it for years. You have asked your family and friends for confirmation of what you are doing in so many ways.
“Is my hair looking good?”
“Do you think I should call her?”
”How did I do?”
Now you are adding in more confirming questions, more checking in.
Ask the other person their name, and give your own
You are familiar with this, because you do it whenever you meet someone. And in business you do it all the time.
“Ms. Ramirez? Remember me? I’m Ted Robinson.”
Now you do it at the barbecue.
“Hi I’m Jeanette – is that Arnold?”
As we all get older, naming yourself first is often a kindness, and if it turns out to be your cousin, then it’s a good “teaching moment” for her to learn how your vision loss is affecting you.
Not on the job
Unfortunately this does not apply at work. If you are losing vision significantly, it is wise to conceal your loss. First you need to work on a strategy and take advice about the law, disability, and employment.
But at the store, the doctor’s office, among friends and family, check in often
“Are you speaking to me?”
“Is this the line?”
“Is it my turn?”
“Can you hear me okay?”
And with people you care about, you want them to respond with words instead of just looking pleased or annoyed.
“How does that sound to you?”
“Do you think it’s a good idea?”
“How do you feel about that?”
With your partner, spouse, or intimate friend it can be useful sometimes to pin them down even more.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 terrible and 10 great, how do you feel about…whatever it is?”
What’s your tip for using words instead of eye contact and facial expression?
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