If you have hearing loss, it has probably caused you to experience annoyance or miscommunication during conversations. But, it doesn’t have to be this way!
There are plenty of simple strategies that can be adopted by both you and your communication partner to make communication more natural, less stressful, and more pleasant. These strategies are straightforward and can be implemented immediately, so why not give some of them a shot?
Be open about your hearing loss
Recognizing your hearing loss is a vital first step towards successful communication. Telling others about your hearing loss will help them better understand your needs.
If you are frank about your condition, your relationship partner is less likely to be upset and to feel like they are being ignored.
You should reveal your hearing loss even if you have visible hearing aids because hearing aids are more discreet, so others might not notice them. If they do, they might believe that they are correcting your hearing completely (which they do not!).
Stay close to your conversation partner
Don’t stand too far away from people you’re speaking to. This has visual as well as audio benefits. Watching their facial expressions and their lips will help you follow the conversation more easily.
This increased proximity can only be achieved after you tell them about your hearing loss and your needs. This way, your conversation partner won’t find it strange that you’re standing a little closer to them and staring at their face and mouth.
Monitor your sound environment, if you can.
Reduce distractions. You want to ensure you ‘re able to concentrate on the discussion and what’s being shared. Minimizing distractions helps you to be present and ultimately interested in what is said. This can involve ignoring email, being on computers (phone, laptop), and multitasking. Such distractions do not allow you to concentrate on communication and what is being communicated. Seek to be present in your discussions, so that you can hear and process information more easily.
Reduce background noise. It is not easy to avoid background noise when you’re out, but this is a different story in your own home. You can reduce noise by lowering the TV and music volume and maybe switching off the dishwasher or other noisy appliances. Avoid running water, fans, and using the vacuum cleaner, too. Reducing background noise makes you hear better by helping prevent your brain from overworking itself.
Avoid peak times in restaurants. There are noisy environments with no control, so it’s best to avoid them. If you intend to have dinner with your family at a restaurant, consider arriving early. Instead of eating during peak hours, an hour earlier dinner can help you beat the crowds, and enjoy dinner in the restaurant before it’s packed and noisy.
Be assertive during communication
Let people know you ‘re in a hearing condition, so you don’t have anything to hide. This way, you can share the best tips they can use to communicate effectively with you. For example, you could ask them to face you so that you can read their lips more easily.
Repeat what has been said to confirm and ensure you have the correct details. You can also keep miscommunications at bay by making notes for dates, times, and places.
If the conversation becomes too overwhelming to keep up with, you can always ask people to repeat themselves or take a break and find a quiet place to recover. Be willing to say what you need, and most people will understand if they know you have an issue with your hearing.
Here’s what to do when misunderstandings occur:
Have a sense of humor, and stay friendly.
When there is too much background noise, ask the person if it is ok to change your location.
Guess what people are saying, then ask for confirmation.
Do not hesitate to get your best friend or loved one to practice these scenarios so that while you’re out and about, you’ll have something already planned in case you need it!
Communication requires effort, time, and concentration from all participants in the conversation. Be diligent in expressing your wishes and pointing out any obstacles. Everyone is looking to have a fun and open discussion, so remember that and proceed from there!
If you have been struggling with communication and hearing loss, contact us today to schedule a consultation.