In a new book, former New York Times editor Katherine Bouton writes about working in a newsroom while losing her hearing.
The Times building has an open plan, symbolizing transparency. It’s beautiful, but the acoustics are terrible. Sound drifts up through the central atrium, and voices carry across a vast sea of desks and cubicles. Every morning in our department we had a 15-minute meeting to set the agenda for the day. It was held just off the atrium. …
I left the paper in 2009 when a new boss came into my department. I delayed telling him about my hearing loss. I wanted him to get to know me, so that when I told him about the hearing loss it would be one of many qualities, perhaps even an incidental one, not the primary one. That was a mistake.
Eventually in an interview I initiated, sensing some distance on his part, he stunned me by saying that he didn’t think I was a “team player” and that he didn’t think things were working out for me in the department. So much for faking it. My advice to anyone in the workplace with hearing loss is to be open and upfront about it. If you aren’t, sooner or later it will backfire.