An excellent Superstar Communicator knows that including everyone in conversations is crucial and that is what the latest podcast is about.
Beth Hartley is a Cambridge Graduate and leads a strategy team for Sainsburys. She lobbies the Government and raises awareness of invisible disabilities and the importance of inclusion. Beth is deaf and recognises that facemarks are a barrier for deaf people to be in a conversation. In this powerful podcast we discuss considering the challenges others could be having to ensure they are part of the conversation.
Highlights from the interview:
- Vary the tone and speed of your speaking to make it easier for deaf people to be able to understand you.
- Communication isn’t about disability, it is about communicating effectively.
- Everyone has a different communication style; so you should do what comes naturally to you.
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Here is the transcription of the podcast episode:
Beth Hartley Podcast Interview
people, hearing, hearing loss, disability, listeners, beth, communicating, listening, podcast, bit, gesture, facemask, deloitte, illustrates, distracting, talking, face, parents, absolutely, support
Beth Hartley, Susan Heaton-Wright
Susan Heaton-Wright 00:00
Welcome to the superstar communicator podcast. My name is Susan Heaton-Wright, a leading impact speaking and communications expert. My aim is to show you how to make an impact. So you will be heard or listened to respected to career success. Listen weekly to the podcast and go to our website, superstarcommunicator.com. Hello, everybody, this is Susan Heaton-Wright. I am delighted you’re here on the call today. And I am so so pleased that so many of you are engaging with the podcast, both downloading it, but also getting in contact with me about the content, saying that it’s a value to you and that it’s helping you during this time. I am really really pleased because on the other end of the internet today I have got a lady who got in contact with me because she had listened to my podcast and it resonated with her. Beth Hartley started her career as a management consultant at Deloitte. having graduated from Cambridge University. She now leads a team in commercial energy as strategy in Sainsbury’s head office and was recently appointed as chair of enable the first ever sainsburys disability network. She has a lifetime of experience living and working with a hearing loss and is dedicated to helping people with disabilities and differences Excel. She focuses on raising awareness, increasing confidence and simplifying workplace processes to better support people with disabilities. As part of her work, Beth has presented her experience to employers across the UK at number 10 Downing Street, the DWP and the Houses of Parliament. Beth is a disability advocate, and recently featured on BBC London news underlying the challenges of COVID-19 facemask diet guidelines on those with a hearing loss and raising awareness of ways to communicate effectively. So welcome, Beth. I’m so pleased to have you.
Beth Hartley 02:36
Thank you so much, Susan. It’s an absolute honour to be here today. And I’m just really delighted to be joining you.
Susan Heaton-Wright 02:45
You have focused on something that is rare, very relevant with the BBC, London news, the fact that we are using masks, and it’s more difficult for you to be able to hear what we’re saying.
Beth Hartley 03:04
Absolutely. So as he actually mentioned, raising awareness, particularly in the current environment, with the COVID-19 guidelines, making facemask mandatory and a lot of places now has been one of my kind of priorities. And just explaining to people and really building that awareness of the challenges that people that that lip read, can face because of that. And I think what’s really interesting to me that actually, when you talk to people, if I actually know anyone who has a hearing loss or a disability, they say oh, no, I can’t I can’t think of anyone that you know, has one. And then actually you ask them out. So do you have any elderly relatives? Or, you know, to have people in your team who for maybe English isn’t their first language? How about when you went to that Italian coffee shop the other day? And then oh, yeah, actually, you’re right. Um, you know, my, my grandmother finds it quite hard to hear an investor on and, um, you know, it’s looks like to switch from off the bat. Or, you know, I’ve got to be really clear, when I’m talking to someone who’s for English isn’t their first language, I’ve got tips, you know, none of it really clearly. And actually, when we delve down into it, most of us knows someone who relies on lip reading or has some form of a hearing loss and where we kind of or may subconsciously adapt to what communicate with them. And I think the latest statistics from action on hearing loss data, one in six in the UK has some form of hearing loss. So one in six – that’s 12 million people. And that goes up to 70% of people over the age of 70. So most people over 70 will struggle with hearing and some form. And that’s where we can really that’s why raising awareness was so okay. It affects far more of us than we might best imagine.
Susan Heaton-Wright 05:16
That’s really, really interesting statistic isn’t it? We we hear about musicians. And you know, I come from a performing background, where musicians, particularly rock musicians, or sound engineers lose some of their hearing, I remember working on an event with a sound engineer, who partly lost part of his hearing in particular pitches, and he kept altering things. So the balance wasn’t right, because he couldn’t actually hear very well.
Beth Hartley 05:58
Wow, exactly. And that’s I think, illustrates that many of us will actually experience some deterioration in our hearing as we get older. And we won’t necessarily say our disability or, or even say that you have a hearing loss, it’s just there, and we adapt to it, and the people around us adapt to it. But at the end of the day, I think what I’ve learned from my professional services background, with working with clients across the globe, and also within Sainsbury’s now and having my hair and loss, it’s that communicate, this isn’t about disability, this is about communicating effectively. And if you can do that, everybody wins, and everyone has the best possible chance to excel. Because at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to be heard?
Susan Heaton-Wright 06:51
Do you think that there is an element of people thinking that hearing loss is attached to old age?
Beth Hartley 07:01
That probably is, and it’s not entirely untrue. So I can certainly say that it tends to be older people that I know, who have hearing loss. And one really interesting thing that I came across recently was, so I have a hearing loss, I’ve had her since birth, as has my older brother, we have no history of hearing impairment within my family. And so when my parents realised that my brother was deaf, and they thought that my mum had eaten some sort of poisonous berries in the garden, which seems very odd now, but I think at the time, there were, you know, medical write-ups about this being a possibility, and you’ve got to be a bit careful and, and, but it just, I think highlights the, the shock for them. But most parents that have a child with a disability won’t necessarily have met anyone before that, who had a disability. So, you know, hearing loss is, I think, to that point, a very new thing to people. And that’s why what I’m doing is really explaining how people can help and, you know, just bringing those things to light, and often it will be things that we’re already doing already, there’ll be, you know, elements of best practice that people might have come across, in, you know, all the face effective communication sessions at work and, and training. But I think my role is set for my experience is to really bring it to light that these little things, these simple things can make the biggest difference.
Susan Heaton-Wright 08:43
Now, I have been reading your as some of your posts, and you told me, actually quite a horrifying story of when you were at school, and you wanted to move forward, so you could hear better, and it broke my heart. Do you mind sharing it?
Beth Hartley 09:01
Yeah, no, of course. So I think when I was about five, so it’s in reception. I think many of your listeners will probably relate. I was in a tip, you know, a classroom, and it was reading time, you know, so instead of Friday afternoon, we’d have reading time and the teacher would sit down in the chair and all the kids would come and sit on the floor in front of them and I should circle and and and listen to the book that was being read and we were called over to the carpet and another girl got there first and sat directly in front of the teacher. But in my mind, I was like, well, I need to fit that. So I’m not really knowing how to explain the news that you know, I haven’t hearing loss really, would you mind just moving slightly to the left that I can sit pace onto, I just sat on top of her. I do, I’m quite a big girl, I’m still quite a big girl, I’m 36. But, um, but I don’t think she or the teacher or her parents took that very lightly. But it just illustrates for me that you can’t really expect a five year old to be able to explain eloquently, the needs that they have. And so well, we’ll find ways to, you know, compensate to. Thankfully, I don’t know other people when that sort of thing happens now. But it just it just illustrates that, you know, all of us are going to have trouble communicating at some point, right? You know, if it’s a loud coffee shop or a restaurant?
Susan Heaton-Wright 11:02
Beth Hartley 11:04
Exactly. And nightclub or bar. And so it can be hard to explain what we need.
Susan Heaton-Wright 11:12
Did you find that in school, did you find that you were well-supported?
Beth Hartley 11:21
Generally, I’ve been really well supported. So I’ve been state schooled all the way up until I was 18. And went off to university. And, of course, there are particular teachers that have really stood out in my memory as as being very inclusive. And they tended to be the ones that would ask me what I knew that and, and ask my parents, what would help them who it may be maybe had my brother already in an earlier year. So they become more aware of that. And, but I think there isn’t, I remember very vividly and quite fondly, and you want to fit in, don’t you? And that’s the trauma list that no one wants to talk and call themselves hours being different or having a different need. That could be I don’t know, inconvenient. And once when I was in sixth form, so this is when I’m much older now. And I went into my geography class, and all my friends sat in the back room, and why I wanted to be with my friends. So I also sat in the back. And the teacher who had been my teacher for a number of years by that point, and obviously recognised that I didn’t want to be singled out. And he asked the entire background to stand out, and the entire front way to stand out. And he said, can everyone on this way switch over. So move the whole way forward. And that included me and and all of my friends, so it was still part of my grade, but sat in front where I could actually hear him. And it just illustrated for me that sometimes, if people are aware, they can just give me that helping hand when when competence is lacking, so they can really help each other.
Susan Heaton-Wright 13:16
Oh, brilliant. You know, everybody will look at what you’re doing. You went to Cambridge University, you worked as a management consultant for Deloitte. And now you have a, you know, a very responsible job at Sainsbury’s. And they might say, Well, you know, surely it was easy for you.
Beth Hartley 13:43
I have actually had that question to me before. When I’ve been doing my campaign and which was bad. That’s great that, you know, you’ve got this far, and you’re leading a team and and you went to Cambridge. And actually, most people aren’t like that. So you’re not really relevant. And, you know, most people won’t achieve that. But actually, the reason that I’m here is because I have experience through my, my, my career, and also having had hearing loss of the strategies that work. And of you know, the way that you can be creative and adaptable to work through things. And that’s how I want to help other people is to take the hard work out, and to simplify things and to help them simplify things. And, you know, really, the things that have helped me succeed can actually be broken down. And that’s what I’m doing as part of my work. Now. It’s really making those things visible so that other people can excel in the way that they want to.
Susan Heaton-Wright 14:57
Oh, well said I know that you pulled a face for those listeners, when I asked that question, you know, Beth, that I don’t believe that, but I was asking that question in case any of the listeners were going to, to ask, we’re going to think that, because it’s almost like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I know, this is a very poor analogy. But Ginger Rogers would always say, Well, I’m dancing in the heels going backwards. So I’ve got some extra things that I need to think about in order to achieve greatness.
Beth Hartley 15:35
I love that. I think you’re completely right, but often people say back that, you know, working with you, having got to where you’ve got to and achieve the things that you have, you know, you got into Cambridge, you got onto the graduate scheme at Deloitte, you know, must take a tremendous amount of resilience, right? Resilience, that that’s what it is. And I find that so frustrating, I don’t know about you, but you know, my, again, familiar, it’s about breaking down what you actually mean by resilience, what have I actually done to make those things happen, and quite a bit of it will be about problem solving. It’s about you know, having a very, very good support network around me, of, you know, particularly my parents who repeat things for me. You know, when I go to the shops, now, I’ve got my fiance, who, you know, they asked mewhether I want bread in my role, I look at him and he supports me in those really difficult times. So ok right, we’re talking about, you know, problem solving someone else, you know, supporting you, delegating in a difficult situation. And actually, there are things that we can all work on and get better at. And it’s not that I’m kind of, you know, in, you know, completely inaccessible. These are all learnings that are very applicable to everyone.
Susan Heaton-Wright 17:16
So, this moves me very swiftly to three top tips. Now, I am particularly interested in three ways that we, the listeners, could help people like yourself who have what I call an invisible disability. because me and my listeners, I speak on behalf of them, we want to be able to support people.
Beth Hartley 17:45
Absolutely, I actually asked my father last night, what tips he would have, because of course, he’s got two kids who have hearing loss. So good to hear it from someone who will pardon the pun, someone who has been very close to that for many years. I think my first one, probably the singular, most important thing you can do is look at the person or look at your audience, when you’re talking. Get their attention before you start speaking, and look at them ideally face on so that they can see your eyes and lips. Now, even with facemask, I will read your eyes and so your eyes will betray a lot about your expression or meaning. And so looking at me still makes a difference. And of course, the sound is then projecting itself towards me. And I think it’s important as well to make sure that you’re in a good place that’s fairly well lit and, and just remember that, you know, so that can make it harder to lip read. I think you can’t always get around those things. But typically, if I go into a restaurant with someone, I’ll choose the table that has the best lighting where I can see their face, because over the course of you know, a two or three hour meal, that’s actually quite exhausting. So that’s certainly something to bear in mind. I think in the workplace, the worst offenders, in the actual workplace, the physical workplace, people pacing when they’re doing presentations. Okay, so you know, there were one way down stage and then they turn around and they were the other way. And not only are you generating background noise because of your footsteps, but you’re also then maybe not even a tour looking at the audience face on. So I would always recommend that you stand still. Preferably, you know by speaker behind the podium and actually face on and your stillness will bring people’s attention not to you walking up and down stage, but to your actual metrics, which I think is ultimately what everyone wants. And if you’ve got a presentation behind you, and you know, lots of people would turn, look at the presentation and talk to the presentation and not the audience, as that sort of looking at the graph or whatever. So you get quite a bit of talking into whiteboards, you’re talking into presentation. So again, that’s something that I would say to watch out for is to try and stay facing the audience when you’re talking. Or if you do need to look behind you look behind you, and then return back and talk. You know, on virtual, it’s a bit different. But again, it’s just be aware of dotting eyes and actually not looking at the screen. And if you are going to make a contribution to a meeting, and you don’t want to be on video the whole time, come on just for a bit where you’re saying something and then go off video again. Because that, again, helps people to read your meaning and understand the better. That I think was the first thing I noticed a bit of spiel, but I think it’s really important. We all hear tips about you know, communicating virtually and being better. And there’s so many things, but just to bring it to life a little bit. And the second thing is the way you speak and so you’re very good at listening. And I mean, you really are just a perfect example of best practice. And that’s part of the reason I absolutely love listening to your podcast, because they say relaxing. And but I think the main things are you pause when you speak. You don’t rush. I think pausing is really important and enunciating clearly. But related to that is something that I picked up when I did some media training recently with the guy who used to be a kind of the head of PR for Tony Blair. And he did this media training, which was about how to do a good radio interview. And one of the things he was saying was that, it’s really important that you vary your tone and, and lift it and say that you’re not speaking in a monotone and that people can really engage with what you’re saying. And I think that’s, that’s really important for people, communicating for people with people with a hearing loss as well is really to, you know, if you’re excited, bring something to sound exciting, because that really helps us to, to pick up your meaning. And that for me, it’s one of the challenges that I have with people who speak in an accent, it’s it can be quite, you know, the same tone the whole way through, which is difficult to differentiate where words start and stop. And so that’s, that’s really cool. And then the third one is gesture, I do this a lot but you know, simple gestures, like pointing at something, or, you know, gesturing with your hands or even writing something down, that makes a really big difference. So if I’m giving directions to someone, I sort of do a bit of that kind of you notice to the right and left. My fiance teases me about that all the time. But it’s great, though, because the reason they do that is because we’re all kind of you know, you’ve got to keep our attention and focus and it does doesn’t it because we all joke about it. And as a reason why actors are so flamboyant, is because we remember what we’re seeing. And so it’s a very effective way of getting meaning across gestures. So, you know, if you’re going back to the office, and you’re wearing a face mask, be aware of that, you know, if you’re in a public environment, or you’re communicating with someone who’s deaf, or you’re doing a presentation, you will have a much bigger impact if you can, you know, gesture and and, you know, bring your body into it a bit a little bit, to convey what you want to say. So it’d be my sort of three key things.
Susan Heaton-Wright 24:19
You know, it’s absolutely fascinating, sort of thinking back to the first one and the third one, the first one about not pacing around the room and things like that. And, and also the the gestures and the third one, there are presentation skills people that tell you not to gesture. I am not one of those people. And to move around, you know, if you go to the right, that’s the past, if you go to the left, that’s the future. And I did that without thinking and somebody said, Well, you know, really use that. That moving into the future and the past. Have no idea about it. But you know, I park that. Isn’t it interesting how actually these things that some people can be taught, and they’re using them because they’ve been on these courses and or I’ve got to hold my hands like this because it’s distracting. Actually, we use our hands.
Beth Hartley 25:25
If I can say a delicate balance.
Susan Heaton-Wright 25:28
If I was sort of like this the whole time, and that would be distracting. But actually, we use these things to emphasise. And with going back to stage craft, if you’re thinking I’ve got to move to the right now because I’m talking about the future, or whatever it is I actually, it’s distracting in your brain as well.
Beth Hartley 25:51
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s keeping things simple isn’t. So if you’re distracted by executing them, it probably is.
Susan Heaton-Wright 26:02
It’s gonna be natural. So if I’m thinking I mustn’t use my hands, because I’m on screen, your brain is going to be thinking I want to move my hands because I’m willing to gesture.
Beth Hartley 26:16
Absolutely, it’s, it’s difficult. And you know, I’ve received quite a bit of training, when I started at Deloitte, you know, because we were talking with clients and hadn’t have maximum impact. And one thing is, just to be aware of having your hands too close to your face. So if you are using your hands, you need to keep them away from your face, because that lip reading perspective, that is very distracting, like covering your face, or having something moving around there. So I would cautiously alert of doing that. And, but generally, everyone will have a different style to communication. So you should do what comes naturally to you. I like using my hands, but it should be, you know, complimentary to what you’re saying, rather than forced. And if you are moving about just be aware, you know, if you’re wearing heels, that it does generate noise distraction, as well as the movement distraction. So as each day, I think it’s, it’s a very delicate balance, and obviously should be, you know, targeted to whatever audience. You don’t want to come across as they’re a stick glued to the floor. But equally, I think some people do prefer a little bit of movement to nerves. And then yeah, I try personally not to hold anything when I’m talking. Because, you know, papers like even a pen that tapping or whatever it’s, it’s like, it’s like a touch someone was telling me it’s like a teddy bear. It’s a comfort blanket. And if you’re even if you’re just holding a pen, but it’s these things like even, you know, the paper now that tossing, it makes the sound and it’s very distracting. And if you’re listening back to a meeting, or a virtual, you know, podcast, it’s particularly distracting if you’re just listening to it, and there’s no video. And so because the sound is like amplified, because you’re just listening. So that’s definitely worth being aware of. Because I know we watch recordings and things a lot nowadays.
Susan Heaton-Wright 28:32
Very, very interesting. So I’m sure listeners, these are some things that you can really, really think about. So that you can support people with hearing loss to be included in the conversation. But before we go, are there any ways that we can get in contact with you support the work that you’re doing Beth? Anything else?
Beth Hartley 28:58
Absolutely. So you can reach me via LinkedIn. I am Elizabeth Hartley. And there I am putting up my blog post. I’ve just started to write a blog. And I’m publishing those articles on LinkedIn for the moment. So you’ll see a bit about, you know, my thought leadership and where that’s going. And secondly, Instagram for those of you that you said, my handle is @ElizabethHartley, and now I’ll share pictures, but also, you know, the latest news about what I’ve been working on. And I’m very happy to answer any questions over email if you do want to reach out on LinkedIn. Something that’s coming up with that I’ll shortly be launching a new website, which will tell you a bit more about the services that I’ll be helping people with in the future. So it’ll be things like anything from kind of one to one patron to article public. To koshien, or keynote speeches, all of which I’ve been doing in the last kind of couple of years, but have yet to kind of offer anything formula. So people can air out for that, of course, the news will be on LinkedIn so that you can see where that’s going. And I hope that your listeners want to kind of join me on the journey.
Susan Heaton-Wright 30:23
Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure listeners that you will want to support Beth, because you like me want to make sure that we have an inclusive society. Thank you so much, Beth, for coming on today. I know that you have a very busy schedule, and you’ve taken time out of your, your day to enter to have this interview. So thank you so much.
Beth Hartley 30:52
Thank you very much for having me.
Susan Heaton-Wright 30:54
So many things to think about so many things for us to consider to move forward.
Beth Hartley 31:01
Susan Heaton-Wright 31:03Thank you very much. And thank you very much for listening today. This is Susan Heaton-Wright. From superstar communicator. Until next time, take care. You have been listening to the superstar communicator podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe and review the podcast on iTunes and all now. Please contact us if you want to discuss any topic could suggest a topic for us to include or a guest who could come on to the podcast go to www.superstarcommunicator.com