If you know someone who suffers from hearing loss, you probably already know that communication can be more challenging than with other people.
Even if this person has hearing aids or has taken steps to exercise their listening and communication skills, there are a few things we can do as people with normal hearing, that can facilitate communication, put our loved ones at ease, and help them in their efforts to communicate with us.
Here are a few communication strategies that can help facilitate a positive exchange with others who suffer from hearing loss.
Always talk face to face when possible
People who have hearing loss can use your body language cues and even a bit of lip reading to help them understand fully what you are saying to them, so talking to them face-to-face (and not from another room) is very helpful.
Call them by name
Listening and communication takes a lot more effort and focus when you suffer from hearing loss. Often they will block out background noises and may not hear or pick up on the cues that they normally would, such as hearing speech that is directed at them when not already in conversation. Simply speaking a person’s name before starting an exchange can get their attention so you don’t have to repeat everything you have said.
Give them full view of your face
Avoid talking too much with part of your face covered, such as while eating, using your hands over your mouth, smoking, etc. Be aware that mustaches and beards could also interfere with communication cues.
Don’t repeat yourself
If someone is having trouble understanding what you said, don’t repeat exactly the same words over and over. Try to say it in a different way. This can facilitate better understanding and communication.
Speak clearly and distinctly but don’t shout
Shouting can distort the sound more for some with hearing loss, so there is no need to speak very loudly. Just do your best to speak slowly and distinctly. Speaking too quickly can also cause issues.
Minimize background noise
If you can, turn off anything that could distract or make hearing your conversation more difficult. Noises like a lawnmower, a TV or radio, or even household appliances can make conversation more difficult for the hearing impaired. Turn everything off and close the windows if needed to help with this.
If you know that your conversation partner has better hearing in one ear than the other, try to position yourself so they can hear you in the “good ear” and don’t have to work so hard to understand what you are saying. It’s a simple thing that can make a big difference.
Keep in mind that sounds they hear may be distorted
You may be doing everything right, but they may still have trouble hearing or understanding you. Patience can go a long way to keeping you both happily communicating. Remember that they are just as frustrated as you are, and would love to hear normally, but they may just not have the ability.
Just keeping in mind a few basic things can make communication much more enjoyable for everyone. Happy chatting!
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The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to audiology, feel free to contact Los Gatos Audiology, with a convenient hearing center located in Los Gatos, CA, by clicking here or by calling 408.703.0772.