Communicating in the presence of hearing loss can be trying—for both sides. For those with hearing loss, limited hearing can be upsetting and tiring, and for their communication partners, the frequent repeating can be just as taxing.
But the challenge can be mitigated providing both parties assume responsibility for effective conversation. Since communication is a two way process, the two parties should collaborate to beat the obstacles of hearing loss.
Here are some helpful tips for effective communication.
Tips for those with hearing loss
If you have hearing loss:
- Aim for complete disclosure; don’t just say that you have trouble hearing. Identify the cause of your hearing loss and supply tips for the other person to best converse with you.
- Suggest to your conversation partner things such as:
- Keep small distances between us
- Face-to-face communication is best
- Get my attention before speaking with me
- Speak slowly and clearly without shouting
- Search for tranquil places for conversations. Limit background noise by turning off music, locating a quiet booth at a restaurant, or identifying a quiet room at home.
- Retain a sense of humor. Our patients frequently have happy memories of absurd misunderstandings that they can now chuckle about.
Bear in mind that people are ordinarily empathetic, but only when you take the time to clarify your position. If your communication partner is conscious of your challenges and preferences, they’re considerably less likely to become irritated when communication is disrupted.
Tips for those without hearing loss
If your communication partner has hearing loss:
- Get the person’s attention prior to speaking. Don’t shout from across the room and face the person when talking.
- Ensure that the person can see your lips and articulate your words carefully. Preserve a consistent volume in your speech.
- Reduce background noise by finding quiet areas for conversations. Turn off the television or radio.
- In groups, ensure that only one person is speaking at any given time.
- Keep in mind that for those with hearing loss, it is a hearing problem, not a comprehension problem. Be ready to repeat yourself occasionally, and remember that this is not caused by a lack of intelligence on their part.
- Never use the phrase “never mind.” This expression is dismissive and indicates that the person is not worth having to repeat what was significant enough to say in the first place.
When communication breaks down, it’s easy to blame the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.
Consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has average hearing, and they are having considerable communication problems. John is convinced Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary thinks John is using his hearing loss as a justification to be inattentive.
Instead, what if John found techniques to enhance his listening skills, and provided tips for Mary to communicate better? Simultaneously, what if Mary did the same and tried to find ways that she could communicate more clearly.
Now, both John and Mary are accepting responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the difficulties. This is the only way to better communication.
Do you have any communication recommendations you’d like to include? Let us know in a comment.