People tend to wait multiple years from the time they notice changes in their hearing to the time they seek help from a professional. Because of this, most people with hearing loss have experienced multiple years of miscommunication and frustrating conversation with friends and family. Life doesn’t have to be this way for those with hearing loss. On top of treating your loss, there are many other intervention strategies you can try to help make communication easier and less stressful. Whether you are the one with hearing loss or you are simply talking with someone a hearing impairment, there are some steps you can take to help reconnect.
1. Don’t hide your hearing loss.
If you have hearing loss – Acknowledging your hearing loss is an important first step to successful communication. Telling your communication partner about your hearing loss will help them to better understand your needs. If you are honest about your loss, your communication partner will be less likely to become frustrated if you miss some of the conversation and will be less likely to feel they are being “ignored”.
Talking to someone with hearing loss – If someone tells you they have a hearing loss, don’t begin to speak to them with loud and over-exaggerated mouth movements, as this can sometimes feel offensive. Instead, simply speak a little more clearly, and a little louder. Speaking with your face and mouth towards the person can also help them to better understand you.
2. Use effective clarification skills.
If you have hearing loss – With hearing loss, it is impossible to expect yourself to catch and understand every little nuance of a conversation. There are ways to handle missing parts of a conversation more effectively than saying “huh” or “what”. These statements can sometimes make your communication partner feel that you are not listening to them or interested in what they are saying. Instead, try repeating the part of the conversation you did hear to acknowledge what they are saying and avoid your partner repeating everything. For example, “I hear you said your daughter got accepted to college, but I didn’t catch what she is majoring in”.
Talking to someone with hearing loss – If the person you are speaking with does not hear part of what you said, do not repeat your entire story, instead, ask them what they did hear so you only spend time clarifying what was missed. Once you know what was missed, repeat yourself once and if that does not work try rephrasing your statement.
3. Highlight the positive & have a sense of humor.
If you have hearing loss – For some people with hearing loss, silly miscommunications are inevitable. It is important to have a sense of humor about them and focus on the positive. For example stating, “If you want me to understand you’re going to have to stop mumbling” is much less effective than, “this is a really interesting story and I want to catch it all. Would you mind speaking a bit more clearly”?
Talking to someone with hearing loss – Know that when your communication partner asks for clarification, that might have already been difficult for them. Many people with hearing loss simply pretend to understand what is being said. Take clarifying statements as a compliment. The person you are talking to really wants to understand what you are saying.
4. Use the technology that is available to you.
If you have hearing loss – If you have already begun treating your hearing loss with hearing aids, please wear them as often as you can! If they are bothering you in some way, do not just ignore them. Reach out to your hearing healthcare professional for a tune-up. If you have not treated your hearing loss yet, you may be surprised by the advanced hearing aid technology that is currently available today. Most modern hearing aids have patented features specifically tailored to make conversations easier – even in noisier environments.
Talking to someone with hearing loss – If you notice someone you are a speaking with wears hearing aids, you can make their listening experience easier by facing them when you speak and speaking clearly (but not exaggerated!). If someone you love is having difficulty hearing you and does not wear hearing aids, encouraging them to reach out for a hearing assessment could be the very best thing you do to improve your conversations.
Visit Us at South Shore Hearing Center
The best way to communicate clearly with hearing loss is to seek treatment for your hearing loss. If you believe you are experiencing changes to your hearing, schedule a consultation and hearing test with us at South Shore Hearing Center today.