How Many Ways Can You Say “What?”

Advertisements

As someone with hearing loss, I spend a lot of time asking people to repeat themselves. Saying “What?” all the time has gotten a little boring, so I have been brainstorming about other ways to ask the same question.

Recently I was having coffee with someone who was impossible for me to hear. His voice was in my weakest decibel range, he kept covering his mouth with his hands, and he was a mumbler! I explained about my hearing loss and asked him to speak louder, but it was a lost cause. I decided to play a game. How many different ways could I ask him to repeat what he said before I had to reuse a method.

Here is my list. Please add your suggestions in the comments.

With words

  1. Pardon?
  2. Huh?
  3. What’s that?
  4. Did you say something?
  5. Excuse me?
  6. Can you repeat that?
  7. What did you say?
  8. Can you spell that name?
  9. Say what?
  10. Sorry?
  11. What do you mean?
  12. Can you say that again?
  13. Can you face me and say that?
  14. Repeat what you think you heard, but as a question.

Without words

  1. Cup your hand behind your ear.
  2. Stare blankly at the person.
  3. Tilt your head to one side with a confused expression.
  4. Shake your head in confusion.
  5. Shrug your shoulders.
  6. Pretend you were distracted by your phone so they feel compelled to repeat themselves when you look up.

Readers, how do you ask someone to repeat themselves?

Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

44 thoughts on “How Many Ways Can You Say “What?””

  1. mama2russians – suburb of Detroit, MI, USA – I'm a stay at home mom. I have 2 school aged children who have invisible special needs. I also have invisible disabilities (mostly deaf & constantly dizzy). I love to knit & crochet. We have 1 sweet dog & 3 adorable cats. We also have a 5' long reef aquarium just getting up & running. It has 7 fish, a coral, 7 snails, 2 shrimp, 2 urchins & a boatload of hermit crabs! It's busy here!
    mama2russians says:

    You used most of mine. My usual favorites are, “I’m sorry?” And “I missed that.”

    Last night, I tried joining in a conversation with a man & a woman I know fairly well. Both know I have severe hearing loss. The man kept turning to look at his phone while speaking (sitting on my fully deaf side) & the woman (on my hearing side) kept either turning to look for her son–other direction–or dropping her voice. I finally just dropped out of the conversation. It was too much to follow. I don’t like to just ignore people but, after asking them to repeat a number of times and having to turn my head to try to read lips, I just got too tired. I gave up & decided I’ll sit by myself next time…

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It can be very frustrating sometimes. It is healthy to take a break, but we can’t give up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Instead of a list of alternate questions, here’s a list of alternate statements.

    1. I didn’t understand that.
    2. I can’t understand you.
    3. I don’t hear well, so I missed some of that.
    4. I’m hard of hearing, so you need to speak louder.
    5. I can’t hear well and I partially lip-read, so it helps if I can see your lips.
    6. It’s hard to understand you over all the background noise.
    7. I’m a bit deaf so I need to ask you to repeat that.
    8. My hearing problem means I can only understand people when they speak distinctly.
    9. I have two hearing aids but, unfortunately, I still didn’t understand you.
    10. With my hearing loss, it’s easier to unerstand you if you speak a bit slower.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Nice! Thanks for the ideas!

      1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
        Shari Eberts says:

        Great advice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I’m afraid after a while, mine are generally huh? and ‘a ?’ (as in the A from ABC) … I think it’s quite rude that once you’ve explained your predicament that the people who you are speaking to don’t make any effort. It infuriates me .. but I use one of your statements and say “did you know that hearing aids don’t work like glasses” … it makes people stop and think. Thank you!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Excellent! Glad it helps to explain it that way. Thanks for your comment.

      1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
        Shari Eberts says:
  4. I could really relate to this one. I usually tell people, quite bluntly (but with a friendly smile) that I’m deaf and if I don’t respond they’ll know I didn’t hear them. I guess people who don’t care if I respond or not, I don’t care a whole lot about what they have to say. Yeah, a little rage there — but most people, I find, are quite willing to help if they can and only need the occasional reminders. I find the most usual thing I have to say is, “if you turn your back, I can’t tell what you’re saying.” I notice that a lot of hearing people also don’t get things if it’s said with a back turned…could be we’re all lip readers?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good point. I think we all do lipread a bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Another excellent topic. My daughter, who has lived all her adult life in the South, contends that it’s rude of me to keep repeating “What?” during a conversation. She says it sounds rude, and Pardon me? or Excuse me? would be more mannerly. But What? seems short and to the point so that’s what I mostly say. Asking the speaker to spell a word I can’t understand can bring the conversation to a complete halt; then we sometimes get into a long boring dialogue about hearing loss. Could someone invent a necklace with a blinking light saying “What?” so I don’t have to keep repeating?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is an interesting perspective that different things are considered rude in different parts of the country. Good idea for the necklace. : )

  6. Heidi – Atlanta, GA – Writer and Internet Marketer from Atlanta, Ga..Coffee Addict, Internet Junkie..Lotta Sparkle With A Dash Of Crazy
    Heidi says:

    So true and people just assume you’re not paying attention. When my brother was young he had trouble with fluid in his ears only we didn’t know and he said huh all the time and my mom used to get so mad. For myself I’ll be honest people tend to not taking my hearing loss seriously because it’s not total so I often compensate by pretending.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I understand the allure of pretending and did so for many years. Now I prefer to come clean up front and sometimes it makes a difference. It takes the pressure off me at any rate. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  7. I didn’t hear that, come again, please repeat that, I missed that, say it again please (but a little slower and a little louder), I can’t hear you when you’re not looking at me, I didn’t understand a thing you just said.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good ones. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Funny!

  8. I have discovered (and I use) a wonderful tool. I had a button made that says “please face me, so that I can hear you better”.
    The words, “please face me” are printed in mirror writing, so my conversation partner (aka CP) is compelled to look at the button, which makes him or her look at my face and…guess what? They ask me, “are you hard of hearing or something?” And, of course, I say, “yes….I will have trouble hearing you, if you don’t face me….could you please help me communicate better?”
    Living in Israel now, my friend made the button for me, in Hebrew.
    I’m having similar success.
    Being open and up front about my hearing loss, has made people be more respectful.
    If you’d like more info, or you’d like to see the button, write to me ..
    Bubberonnie@gmail.com

    Regards,
    Ronnie

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Excellent idea. Way to advocate for yourself!

  9. When meeting people for the first time I tell them I’m hearing impaired and they need to face me so I can lip read. Funny response I get quite often : “Oh that’s okay”!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I am glad they think so. LOL. Thanks for sharing your comments.

  10. tonybars84 – I led a pretty typical life until January 2016 when I suffered an autoimmune attack that nearly took my life. Luckily my life was spared, but I lost much of my hearing. Aside from that fun fact, I'm a 33 year old with 2 beautiful young girls, a great wife and a yappy dog.
    tonybars84 says:

    I tend to use the phrase “what’s that” quite often. One thing I read that Neil Bauman wrote is something I often bring up to friends and family to help them understand. Hearing aids are more like a cane than they are like eyeglasses. A person with a cane can hobble along, but no one expects him to run a 5k. That’s how hearing aids are for me.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is a good analogy. Thanks for sharing.

  11. edawng – Hi! My name's Elissa, I'm 18, and this is my first blog. I just graduated recently, and... well, now that I have the time I figured, "why not try blogging, it sounds like fun." I have a lot of interests-- several of them are listed on the About page, if you're curious. I recycle through all my hobbies often, so I may be fixated on one hobby for a few months, and then suddenly switch to something completely different. There is a strong possibility this will affect my blog, so if I've been posting stuff about one topic (like music) and all of a sudden I switch to another (like gardening) don't be too shocked. That's just me. :)
    edawng says:

    With words, I use: 2, 4, 7, 13, 14. A couple additional ones I use: “Are you talking to me?” and “Sorry, I didn’t hear/catch that.”
    Without words, I use: 1, 2, 3. If it’s one of my nieces or nephews, I will occasionally actually reach out and gently turn them towards me to remind them they need to face me when they talk.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good additions. Thanks for sharing.

  12. edawng – Hi! My name's Elissa, I'm 18, and this is my first blog. I just graduated recently, and... well, now that I have the time I figured, "why not try blogging, it sounds like fun." I have a lot of interests-- several of them are listed on the About page, if you're curious. I recycle through all my hobbies often, so I may be fixated on one hobby for a few months, and then suddenly switch to something completely different. There is a strong possibility this will affect my blog, so if I've been posting stuff about one topic (like music) and all of a sudden I switch to another (like gardening) don't be too shocked. That's just me. :)
    edawng says:

    What’s hilarious is repeating back what you heard them say, and seeing the weird looks they get on their faces. One time my mom, referring to the metal sticks you use for smores, said we needed to get “Fire pokies.” What I heard was “Wire cookies” and I just stared at her like, “I have no idea what you meant to say just now, but I know what i heard was not it.”

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Sometimes the mishearing are hilarious!

  13. Again….I’m telling you….wearing the buttons, really helps people “get it”.

    I have several buttons, in English. I have one button in Hebrew, because I now live in Israel.

    When people are constantly reminded to look at me when they speak to me, they are more apt to continue to look at me.

    Also, I ask them NOT to shout at me…that does no good. I ask them to speak more slowly.

    Hearing people do NOT get it. They can’t. They don’t live inside our heads.

    That is why I also show them YouTube videos, which depict, in video, what if feels,like to be HOH/deaf.

    That is only if they care enough.

    If they don’t care, then, there’s no point.

    Ronnie

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      The buttons are a good idea. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. you’re welcome.
    Get the buttons.
    It will save you time and energy and frustration.
    The buttons get the attention of the person who is speaking to you.
    Google the phrase, “I can’t hear you if you don’t FACE ME”
    Print it out and then go to a button making store and have the buttons made (perhaps $20 for 10 of them).
    You can give them to your other HOH/deaf friends.

    The first part of the phrase is in mirror writing, so it really grabs the attention of the communication partner.
    It catches their eye and they often tell me, “Hey, why are those words backwards?”
    So, it’s more than a conversation starter. It gets their attention and it really gets them to slow down their speech and look at you when they speak to you.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Please email to shari@livingwithhearingloss.com. Thanks!!

  15. I want to send you a copy of the front of the button. But, I cannot attach it here. Do you have an email address where I can send it?

    Thank you.
    Ronnie

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:
    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Funny! Thanks for your comment.

  16. Shari,

    I tried sending you the picture of the “FACE ME” button, but the email address that you gave me…”shari@livingwithhearingloss.com” gets rejected and sent back to me as “undeliverable.”
    Do you have another address where I can send it to you?
    Thanks.
    Ronnie

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I received it via email today. Thank you so much for sending!

Leave a Reply