Communicating in the presence of hearing loss can be trying—for each party. For those with hearing loss, partial hearing can be upsetting and exhausting, and for their conversation companions, the constant repeating can be equally taxing.
However, the challenge can be lessened provided that both parties take responsibility for effective communication. Since communication is a two way process, each parties should collaborate to conquer the challenges of hearing loss.
Below are a few useful tips for effective communication.
Tips for those with hearing loss
If you have hearing loss:
- Aim for complete disclosure; don’t simply say that you have difficulty hearing. Identify the cause of your hearing loss and provide tips for the other person to best converse with you.
- Suggest to your conversation partner things such as:
- Keep short distances in between us
- Face to face interaction is best
- Get my attention before speaking to me
- Talk slowly and clearly without shouting
- Find tranquil locations for conversations. Lessen background noise by turning off music, locating a quiet booth at a restaurant, or finding a quiet room at home.
- Keep a sense of humor. Our clients often have affectionate memories of ridiculous misunderstandings that they can now have a good laugh about.
Bear in mind that people are normally empathetic, but only when you take the time to explain your circumstances. If your conversation partner is advised of your challenges and requirements, they’re less likely to become irritated when communication is disrupted.
Tips for those without hearing loss
If your conversation partner has hearing loss:
- Get the person’s attention prior to speaking. Don’t yell from across the room and face the person when speaking.
- Ensure that the person can see your lips and articulate your words diligently. Hold a consistent volume in your speech.
- Reduce background noise by choosing quiet areas for discussions. Turn off the television or radio.
- In groups, make sure only one person is speaking at any given time.
- Remember that for those with hearing loss, it is a hearing problem, not an understanding problem. Be prepared to have to repeat yourself from time to time, and remember that this is not due to a lack of intelligence on their part.
- Never say “never mind.” This expression is dismissive and suggests that the person is not worthy of having to repeat what was important enough to say in the first place.
When communication breaks down, it’s easy to pin the blame on the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.
As an example, consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has average hearing, and they are having serious communication issues. John is convinced Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary believes that John is using his hearing loss as a justification to be inattentive.
Instead, what if John found methods to develop his listening skills, and offered tips for Mary to communicate better? At the same time, what if Mary did the same and attempted 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 road to better communication.
Do you have any communication guidelines you’d like to include? Let us know in a comment.