There is no doubt that hearing loss can make everyday conversations more difficult. Spouses, family members, employers, and co-workers of hard of hearing people can use various communication tactics–such as speaking clearly and not covering their mouths–to help make things easier. But those with hearing loss can also reach out. If you have hearing loss, here are several things that you can do for the best chance of a successful conversation.
Turn off external noise. If you are able to control the environment you are in, be sure to turn off any sounds that can interfere with your understanding of the conversation, such as TVs or music. Failing that, try to move to a quieter place. At a restaurant, it will help a great deal if you can secure a table away from large groups of people, or the kitchen.
Be open about your hearing loss. Tell your conversation partner about your hearing loss. It doesn’t have to be a bombshell – just a simple disclaimer would do. You don’t have to be embarrassed about it, and people are usually happy to oblige, to ensure you both have as smooth a conversation as possible. This disclosure extends to your family and friends, and might also offer an explanation as to why you sometimes might not laugh at their jokes, or ignored them that one time when they tried to get your attention at the mall.
Be clear about what you need to enable smoother communication. With the other person aware of your hearing loss, you can then request a few ways they can make things easier for both of you. For instance, you can ask them to look at you when talking so that you know they are talking to you, or refrain from eating, smoking or anything else that might make it difficult for you to lipread. If they are aware of the best way to help you, they will also feel less frustrated during the exchange.
Position yourself for success. Don’t stand too far away. Ensure you can see the speaker’s face and lips, which will make it easier to read non-verbal communication. If you have uneven hearing, be sure leverage your ‘good side’. If this means having to change places with someone else, don’t be afraid to do so.
Try to remain calm. Communication often becomes harder when we feel overwhelmed or anxious. If you miss a word or two, listen for a little longer before you ask for clarification. You might be able to understand the gist of the sentence after the speaker has continued for a while, noting their facial expressions and body language. This information is most useful in social situations where you don’t need to learn every piece of information that is said. For times when you need to note down more important information however, follow the next piece of advice.
Repeat important information as you hear it. Spoken quickly, the numbers ‘thirteen’ and ‘thirty’ can sound similar. When you get an important date or number from the other person, repeat it back to them. It is even better if you can get it in writing, then there is no room for ambiguity.
Finally, know your limits. If you’re running low on sleep, or have been engaged in conversation for an extended period, your understanding and subsequent responses will be compromised. At this point, it might be better to take a break or leave the conversation altogether.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. No one hears correctly all the time. Be proud of the fact that you put yourself out there and managed to be social in a challenging environment. For most people with hearing loss, this is a very difficult thing to do.
Learn to lipread. Are you looking for more of an edge? If you don’t already lipread, it might be worth learning. By attending a lipreading class, you not only develop skills that help you communicate, you also meet and get advice from people who are in a similar situation as you.
Upgrade your hearing aid. Many of the modern ones are specially designed to ensure better hearing in noisy environments.
Contact Active Hearing & Audiology to start hearing better today
Of course, the number one thing you can do to make communication easier with hearing loss is invest in a good pair of hearing aids, if you haven’t already. The first step is a simple hearing exam which will give us a clear picture of your overall hearing health. Clearer conversations are within your reach, so don’t delay–schedule your appointment with Active Hearing & Audiology today!