Kienholz Coffee Talk

Kienholz Coffee Talk

Maybe you know how it feels to be on the "sidelines" at social gatherings. It gets embarrassing to ask others to repeat. Or you watch TV and others complain it's too loud and you end up not understanding.

What is happening?

You are actually listening harder than anyone else, but the words you hear don't make sense. (It's just like playing Wheel of Fortune all day long, but with live conversation!) Our brain is receiving incomplete words, with vital parts missing. We could be in the midst of a sea of laughter and smiling faces and still feel alone.

But you're not alone. Too many attest to the same dilemma. What has happened is an active, full life has worn down your auditory system. Our hearing is one of four functions in life that are very important to us on a daily basis. It is absolutely incredible that its significance is rarely understood and easily neglected. Why?

  1. How many of us have had dental work? We need to eat. Every day we need energy, "the boilers fueled", METABOLISM to occur. It all begins with chewing, mastication. We've been going to the dentist since we were five.
  2. How many of us wear glasses? We're not blind, but when our vision got fuzzy we sought help. We require NAVIGATION in order to get around.
  3. Many of us have had our knees scoped or hips replaced. We need MOBILITY, to reach our destination, be it the next room, the house of a friend, a coffee-shop, a golf outing, a church function.
  4. Upon reaching our destination, we desire and need connection with people-friends, family, fellow-workers. CONNECTION - Our hearing, more than any other sense or bodily function, connects us to our friends and family. Our ears are the windows to our heart. Our hearing needs attention, too. Being an" invisible" problem unfortunately slows our response in seeking help. Now more than ever you need the assistance of a professional.

"There I was, in the midst of the birthday party my family had worked so hard to put together, yet I could hardly understand the conversations, jokes, or congratulations. All night long, I felt like a 'deer caught in the headlights'. I wanted to crawl into a corner and hide."

Sound familiar? You can actually be listening harder than anyone else and the words still don't make sense. (1) You listen with your ears, (2) you 'listen' with your eyes, watching who is facing you when they talk, and (3) you listen, cognitively, with your brain, trying to assemble words and sentences with parts missing. You're left guessing, it's stressful, and others get upset as well.

Try this experiment. as simple as it is revealing

Pronounce the word "speech" slowly, out loud: sp -ee-ch. Note that sp & ch (consonant blends) are mere whispers. Don't say spa or cha just sp & ch. They have no power!

Now pronounce the ee. The vowel is strong; you can shout it. Vowels can have up to 90% of the power in many words, but it's the weak, higher pitched consonants that have nearly 90% of the audibility-the clarity-of speech. 90% !!

Therein lies the problem. The consonants are teeming with meaning, but because they're so weak ( only 10% of the power, give or take) they're constantly being smothered, masked, shoved aside by background noise, by others' vowels. You've experienced this in restaurants.

A simple written illustration, part of a letter, helps to clarify this:

"Dear Mom and Dad, How are you? We miss you. Can't wait to get home for Christmas."

Now use the same letter but remove all of the vowels so it looks like this:

"Dr Mm nd Dd, Hw r y? W mss y. Cn't wt t gt hm fr Chrstms!

A little strange no doubt, but no problem. You can still figure it out.

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