Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)
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Communicating effectively with someone with hearing loss can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Communication is a two-way street and there are things that we can do to enhance our ability to have meaningful interactions with those experiencing hearing loss. By following some tips for better communication, we can put ourselves in a better position to move beyond misunderstandings or misinterpretations to a place where more fruitful conversations thrive.
Tip #1: Find a Quiet Place
Perhaps the most obvious is realizing that loud environments aren’t the best places to have engaged conversations with people suffering from hearing loss. When you’re conversing with an individual with hearing loss in a place that’s too loud or has too many distracting background noises, they will have a challenge picking up your voice. Generally, if there are a multitude of sounds, everything seems much louder. Rather than trying to shout over the cacophony, seek out a quiet place to engage in conversation.
Tip #2: Try to Gauge the Level of Hearing Loss
It is vital to understand the level of hearing loss someone has when engaging with them in conversation. Often times, we may think that someone’s hearing loss is far worse than it is, and speaking overtly louder because of this can be not only embarrassing to you, but hurtful to the listener. Sometimes hearing loss is impacted in only one ear, so knowing the better side to speak to them is important. Knowing these details can make a big difference. In the case that you’re close to the individual with hearing loss, it might be easier to gauge the level of hearing loss they face as they may be more open to speak to you about the details of their hearing loss.
Tip #3: Rephrase Instead of Repeat
Repeating yourself over and over is no fun for anyone. If you’re engaged in conversation with a person with hearing loss, try not to repeat yourself more than once. Rather, try rephrasing what you initially stated using different uncomplicated words that may have the same meaning to communicate the idea. Those with hearing loss want to hear you and they want to be heard too!
Tip #4: Make Eye Contact
In any normal conversation, it is common courtesy to make eye contact while speaking. It is even more important to make eye contact when speaking with someone with hearing loss. Doing so allows the listener with hearing loss to be able to read your facial expression for context clues they may have missed. Studies show that non-verbal cues constitute for more than 50% of communication, so making eye contact while you speak gives the hard of hearing listener a chance to see what you’re trying to convey.
Tip #5: Get Their Attention
More often than not, people will jump into conversations with people with hearing loss without getting their attention first. This is a common mistake because without getting the attention of the person, you’ll be talking without them even knowing. Even worse, once they realize you’re talking to them, they may have missed a good portion of the beginning conversation. So that everyone is engaged in the conversation from the onset, make sure they know you’re speaking.
Tip #6: Don’t Cover Your Face
Similar to keeping eye contact with someone with hearing loss, it is important to keep things away from your face while engaged in conversation. Not only will it be more challenging for someone trying to read your facial expressions or lip read what you’re saying, it also disrupts the volume and clarity of what is being said. Make an effort to break the habit of covering your face while talking to your friends and loved ones who are suffering from hearing loss.
Get a Hearing Test with Professional Hearing Services Today!
If you or a loved one is facing hearing loss, the best thing you can do is set up a hearing test today. Studies have shown that people with untreated hearing loss take up to 7 years to seek professional help. Our hearing health professionals at Professional Hearing Services will be able to identify what level of hearing loss you may have and will equip you with the necessary tools to improve your hearing health today!