If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably experienced frustration or miscommunication during conversations because of your hearing loss. Communicating with hearing loss does not have to be this way. There are plenty of simple strategies that both you and your communication partner can adopt to make communication easier, less-stressful, and more enjoyable. With a little conscious effort, these strategies are absolutely free, totally easy, and can be implemented immediately, why not give some of them a shot?
Tip #1: Don’t Hide Your Hearing Loss
As tempting as it may be, hiding your hearing loss is the absolute worst mistake you can make when it comes to successful communication with hearing loss. People cannot read your mind. If you smile and pretend you hear what they are saying, your communication partner will believe you understand! This is where frustration and miscommunication can easily sneak in – especially when it is your turn to speak and you’re unsure how to react! It’s important to remember that people are talking to you because they want you to understand what they are saying. If you are honest and upfront about your hearing loss and your needs (speak in my good ear, speaking slower or louder etc), you may be surprised by how willing people are to make accommodations.
Tip #2: Set Yourself Up for Success
As mentioned earlier, people are pretty willing to make accommodations to make communicating with hearing loss easier on both of you. Ask your communication partner to speak in a quieter area to avoid annoying background noise. It is also important to position yourself directly in front of the person you are listening to. Your ears are best at picking up noises right in front of you, and you will also have the best opportunity to read your partner’s facial and body expressions in this position. Location and position are extremely simple ways to make listening and speaking more fluid and stress-free.
Tip #3: Use Effective Clarification Strategies
This one is gold, but it may take a bit of initial practice. Many of us have probably fallen into the habit of saying “huh” or “what” when we don’t hear what someone has said or become lost in a conversation. This can make your communication partner feel you are not interested in what they are saying and may be less likely to want to repeat their statement. Instead of “huh”, try asking for specific clarification. For example, “I heard you say your granddaughter got accepted to NYU, and was majoring in biochemistry, but I did not hear when her classes would start”. Repeating the parts of the conversation you did hear will indicate to your communication partner that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying, and are actively listening. When asking for clarification in this manner, people tend to be much more patient and much more likely to take the time to truly help you understand and hear what they are telling you.
Tip #4: It’s Ok to Interrupt
Despite what your mother may have taught you, sometimes it is ok to interrupt during a conversation. If you start becoming lost in a conversation, it is important to let your communication partners know right away. This way, they have time to clarify, and they conversation does not run away from you. If you wait too long, you may miss where the conversation has gone, which may make for some embarrassing situations later! Another instance when it is appropriate to interrupt is when you didn’t hear an important announcement in a busy place. For example, imagine you are at a busy airport and an announcement is made that you didn’t quite catch. Then imagine that all of the sudden everyone starts gathering their things and walking to somewhere else. Of course it is perfectly appropriate to interrupt a nearby conversation or a gate agent to ask for clarification on the announcement so you don’t miss your flight!
Tip #5 Get Your Hearing Checked
Of course these are not the only tips to making communication with hearing loss easier. While great, tips and strategies are not substitutes for the technological advances of today’s hearing aids. If you have noticed some of the signs of hearing loss such as noticing conversations becoming more frustrating and difficult to understand – it’s time to assess your hearing. The hearing aids of today are discreet, advanced, and packed with technology aimed at making your life as stress-free and joyful as possible.
To schedule a hearing test, contact us at Fidelity Hearing Center.