Hearing loss is far more common than many of us realize. It’s likely that someone in your social circle has struggled with hearing loss, whether it be a parent, grandparent, coworker or friend. Modern hearing aids, which continue to be improved upon in phenomenal ways, can aid understanding significantly, but they still aren’t a silver bullet when it comes to hearing loss. The fact is even with hearing aids, your hard of hearing friends may face communication difficulties from time to time. If you would like to know how to make life–and listening–easier for them, here are few helpful strategies to try out.
5 simple and effective communication strategies
- Always face your listener and get their attention first. Even with the help of hearing aids, hard of hearing listeners have to work harder to understand speech, especially in noisy situations. Having a moment to prepare to listen–or even a couple of seconds–can make a difference for someone with hearing loss.With this in mind, always make sure you face your listener and get their attention before speaking. A simple touch on the shoulder is a good way to let them know you’re about to address them. Shouting from another room or talking while walking in front of or behind your conversation partner is never a good idea. Remember: facial expressions, gestures and the movement of your lips are all important to your hard of hearing listener, so you shouldn’t cover your mouth, chew gum or food, or smoke while talking.
- Practice empathy and patience. It’s easy to feel frustrated or upset when your conversation partner doesn’t respond, is slow to respond, or seems to constantly misunderstand you. Keep in mind that your hard of hearing companion wants to communicate with you and is likely working very hard to try to understand your words. Remain patient, positive and relaxed, and if you feel yourself getting flustered, take a deep breath and try to say it another way. The effort of listening can be exhausting for a person with hearing loss, and your patience and positive attitude will probably be greatly appreciated.
- Make an effort to enunciate. This is particularly important if you are naturally a fast talker, a soft talker, or someone who has a tendency to mumble. When you are conversing with your hard of hearing friend, coworker or family member, it’s up to you to speak as clearly and precisely as possible to aid understanding. However, it isn’t necessary to slow down your speech to an unnatural rate or raise your voice to a shout. Speaking at a normal, relaxed pace and reasonably loud volume is the best way for you to be understood.
- Rephrasing is better than repeating. If your hard of hearing listener has difficulty understanding you the first time around, don’t simply repeat yourself word for word. A more helpful approach is to rephrase your statement or question, giving your companion a chance to pick up on different keywords that could illuminate your meaning. So simply repeating, “What time are we going to the lake?” while raising your voice may not make things clearer for the person with hearing loss. Instead, try a paraphrase such as “When are we going swimming?”
- Try to reduce the interference of background noise. You have probably struggled to understand a friend at a crowded party or jam-packed restaurant. In these noisy situations, It’s 100 percent more difficult for someone with hearing loss. If you find yourself trying to converse with a hard of hearing friend in a noisy venue, there a few simple things you can do to facilitate understanding.
- Sit across from your hard of hearing companion, in a well-lit location, so that your face can be easily seen.
- In a restaurant, choose a table near the wall and give your friend the wall seat, so that the background noise isn’t also coming from behind them.
- When possible, find a quieter space to converse. In an office setting, go to a separate, quiet area and make sure to send a follow up email with a recap of the conversation.
Get in touch with La Cañada Hearing for life-changing hearing help
If you are living with undiagnosed hearing loss you may be missing out on important moments with your friends and family. But the right hearing aids can help significantly, restoring lines of communication. To take the first step towards better hearing, schedule your appointment for a comprehensive hearing exam with La Cañada Hearing today.