"I don't have a hearing problem"Sep 22, 2023
What do you say when you're in a hearing consultation, and your patient says:
"I don't have a hearing problem."
I mean, I know what's going through your head.
"Cool... So what are we doing here exactly?"
But, what do you say?
Don't teach. Don't persuade. Get curious.
The Power of Questions
Let's break it down.
Theoretically they're in your office for some practical reason.
They probably didn't just say to themselves, "Hey, you know what would be fun this afternoon? I'm gonna go get a hearing test!"
Something brought them there.
Start with that. If you know their referral source, that's great. If not, no problem.
Acknowledge the statement and start asking questions.
"Got it. You're not noticing a hearing problem right now. So what brought you in today?"
"...I see you came in because [reference referral source]. Can you tell me more about that?"
Here's the thing.
You might not love their answer!
This is where you have to drop your attachment to your ideal outcome.
Remember, it's about them not you.
So if they say:
"I just want to get a baseline."
"I'm only here because my wife made me come."
"My doctor told me to, I don't know why."
Acknowledge their response. Keep asking questions. Stay in curiosity mode.
"Ok, so you just want to see where you are today. Has anything happened recently that caused you to think you need to get a baseline hearing test?"
"I understand, it sounds like your wife is experiencing some frustration with your hearing, but you don't see it as a problem. Where do you think that disconnect is coming from?"
"So your doctor wanted you to have your hearing evaluated. Was there anything that you discussed at your last doctor's visit that might have prompted them to have you come in?"
Keep this process going as you work your way through discovery, with discretion. Overdoing it becomes salesy and annoying.
Your goal with questions is to help them unlock insights and, if possible, begin to take some ownership of their hearing loss...not pummel them into submission until they finally admit something is wrong.
When you feel that you've hit a wall and the patient either doesn't have a problem, or is in denial or totally unwilling to acknowledge there's a problem...
Here's a Power Question that I teach my clients in the Patient First program:
"What's your ideal outcome for today's appointment?"
What's the Takeaway?
When you're telling/teaching/educating/persuading...you run the risk of pushing the patient away.
Making them defensive, uncomfortable, ashamed, or more likely to shut down.
When you're asking questions with empathy and curiosity...you're pulling them in.
Creating alignment, building trust, increasing the likelihood of them opening up.
But here's the reality.
Sometimes there's no perceived problem for the patient yet.
Even if there is a hearing loss.
If this is the case...DON'T keep pushing into a treatment conversation.
When you do this, you shift from being helpful to being salesy.
Your solution has no value without a problem.
At this point it's ok to educate them on their current hearing status.
Make them aware of the implications of ongoing untreated hearing loss without fear mongering.
And recommend a no-pressure follow up appointment to discuss their experience, now that they're aware that they have a hearing loss and that it's contributing to communication difficulties.
When you do this, you position yourself as their Trusted Guide.
When they're ready, you'll be their first call.
Want to help more patients in your practice? Schedule a risk-free strategy session to discuss your goals and develop a plan with Brad Stewart, AuD.