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Partially Deaf Woman Sparks Drama After Not Telling Gossiping Coworker She Can Read Lips

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A new coworker found out the hard way that Redditor Kaos-Kitten is partially deaf but is able to read lips.

Because of a workplace incident, Kaos-Kitten has been struggling with being transparent when it comes to her hearing loss and communicative capabilities.

So she sought feedback by visiting the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:

“AITA for not telling someone I can read lips”

The Original Poster (OP) indicated that the confrontation with her coworker happened before the pandemic.

“I’ve had hearing loss for most of my life, but it was diagnosed when I was about 7 years old. So I learned to read lips at the same time I was learning to speak. I’m very proficient in reading lips.”

“Whenever I work with someone new, I make sure to let them know that I have hearing loss and to make sure that they are facing me and I’m aware they’re talkin to me.”

“I’ve never actually mentioned to any co-workers that I could read lips & but I’m pretty sure most of them at least suspect it strongly.”

“A new co-worker started and I did my customary introduction and disclaimer about my hearing.”

“I don’t think she believed me because she got very offended when I ignored her. The problem being she was trying to get my attention from behind me and I genuinely did not hear her.”

“Once someone got my attention I apologize to her and pointed out that I did have hearing loss and I wasn’t aware that she was talking to me.”

Apparently, the coworker was having a hard time moving on from their conversation.

“A few days later she was venting to a mutual coworker. The only problem was she was facing me and I could read her lips perfectly.”

“After a few minutes I approached her and let her know that if she was going to sh*t talk someone she needed to make sure they couldn’t understand her and that I was reading her lips the entire time.”

“I told her I was upset that she wouldn’t just come to me, and that I did tell her twice that I was partially deaf and couldn’t hear her. She freaked out because apparently I was being rude by reading her lips when she was facing me.”

Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Redditors weighed in with many siding with the OP as NTA.

“NTA. Sounds like you taught her a very important lesson and she was embarrassed.”

“Glad you called her out and stuck up for yourself.” – abis7

“NTA. You aren’t obligated to tell anyone you can read lips, and she was being incredibly rude for taking advantage of your lack of hearing and talking in front of you thinking you wouldn’t notice.” – telusey

“So NTA you wouldn’t tell someone it was rude that they could hear you when you when you were talking sh*t about them, same thing applies here.” – Carlos13th

This Redditor found humor when comparing the altercation to a familiar scenario.

“Sounds like one of those stories where people are sh*t talking the waiter behind their back in a different language, but the waiter actually speaks the language lol. NTA” – loadurbrain

Take heed – you never know who might be understanding your rude comments.

“I once had a friend from Greece who was studying in the UK.”

“We were in a takeaway shop one night after a night out and these two guys walk in and start talking to each other in Greek.”

“Apparently they were saying rude things about my friend’s appearance. Then when we left she walked over and said in ‘have a great night, assholes’ in Greek. The look on their faces was absolutely priceless.” – Purple_Paige

“My hearing is just fine but my dad is totally deaf and taught me to lip read from a young age.”

“You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve ‘overheard’ accidentally in public.” – grumpleskinskin

This Redditor with the same communicative abilities reminded people why they shouldn’t talk smack behind other’s backs.

“NTA- also suffer from partial hearing loss and read lips. I tell coworkers I am hearing impaired for the same reason, and some people did think I was purposely ignoring them before I started.”

“I feel like everyone already knows I read lips because I work behind a loud bar and will look at peoples lips while they speak.”

“But it’s not some super power lol and it’s not rude to do. Don’t talk sh*t if you don’t want them to find out.” – sassyappalachian

The OP commented back:

“Honestly I feel like everybody I work with knows I can read lips. Because multiple people have commented that I’m always staring at their lips when they’re talking.”

“I’m going just like well yes of course I am what do you want me to do.”

The OP was encouraged not to let the co-worker’s behavior affect her.

“I wouldn’t let them bother you, seem like the worst type of person. You are not in the wrong here.”

“I genuinely don’t think to tell people I’m reading their lips when they’re speaking to me, it’d be like me expecting them to tell me they can hear me when I speak lol.”

“I’ve only ever had customers catch an attitude with me over my hearing, but they’re quick to back down when I throw out I’m hearing impaired.” – sassyappalachian

“NTA. People who are Deaf or HoH are never the a**hole for not saying they can read lips. That’s a personal choice and truly no one else’s business. And you did tell her.” – Think_Network_3390

“She’s just mad because she got caught badmouthing you OP. No pun intended.”

“Basically the same thing as someone getting mad at another person for knowing the languages they were sh*t-talking you at. NTA.” – sikstin

This person had a genuine concern relevant to the current health crisis.

“NTA – Just like I can’t help what my hears hear, you can’t help what your eyes see.”

“These … masks must be a real kick in the teeth for you, do you also sign?” – GreatOnPaper

The OP responded:

“I do yes but lip reading is much easier. I’m really hating the masks lol.”


Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a Los Angeles based actor whose work has been spotted anywhere from Broadway stages to Saturday Night Live.
He received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese.
In addition to being a neophyte photographer, he is a huge Disney aficionado and is determined to conquer all Disney parks in the world to publish a photographic chronicle one day. Mickey goals.
Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1 Flickr: nyckmo