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One area of difficulty for people living with hearing loss is communication with friends and loved ones. Conversation can be strained, especially when you have to ask people to repeat words or phrases, and it can be even more difficult depending on your location. Homes can be quieter environments, but ambient sound can definitely present a challenge. Restaurants and bars are often louder environments in which communication is an even greater challenge.
There are ways to strengthen existing communication skills and adopt new ones by using some of the outlined tips below.
1. Levity Is A Lifesaver
There will be times when the communication feels like an uphill battle. Know that you may not be the only person experiencing frustration! Take a deep breath, count to ten if necessary. Then, address the issue so that you can move on productively.
2. May I Have Your Attention?
Before speaking to someone, make sure you have their attention. This can be done with a gentle touch or by making eye contact, especially if they are busy with something else. You can also say their name and wait for them to look at you before speaking, which ensures that you have their attention. This becomes an opportunity for them to eliminate or reduce any background noise from a television or household appliance before you start speaking.
3. Speak Clearly, Not Loudly
It is important to speak clearly and at a regular pace, enunciating your words along the way. The brain is processing speech and language recognition in a new way so if a repeat has been requested try to use a different word or phrase. Facing the person is also helpful in case they use lipreading in discussion.
4. Speech, Not Drag
Rather than speaking dramatically slower and dragging out words, try to add pauses to your speech pattern. This can help the clarity and flow of the conversation and offer the other person room to speak. Speaking in this way may also be infantilizing and insulting to someone with a hearing loss, possibly making them feel as if other work they are doing for their hearing health is for naught.
5. Use Your Words
The brain is processing a lot of sound information differently when hearing aids are present. It can be difficult to tune out unnecessary information for the sake of clarity. However, conversation is a time when more information can be helpful.
A single-word answer “yes” can sound oddly similar to the single-word answer “no.” If you instead reply, “Yes, we can,” or “No, we cannot,” that gives the listener more helpful information in the form of words and syllables. They can then use that information contextually and not feel confused by brevity.
6. Closer Is Better
Reducing the distance between you and the listener is always a good idea. This is especially true of louder spaces, like restaurants, parties or any place where there is a lot of environmental noise. When possible, sit face-to-face, take a closer seat at a table, or make sure your body language is clear in order to help the person with whom you are speaking. Avoid calling from another room or shouting from large distances. Instead, walk to them and speak at a normal volume.
7. Ask the Pros
In the event that the communication breakdown feels insurmountable, you can always ask your hearing health care professional for help. Most hearing specialists have strategies to help families communicate in these new ways and they are happy to help. Advice from a neutral third-party can also often be easier to accept in dealing with family matters.
8. Wear Your Hearing Aids! They Will Aid with Your Hearing!
If you have a hearing loss, it is important to be diligent about wearing your hearing aids regularly. It is a sign that you are doing your part as you and loved ones navigate communicating in new ways. Remember, you are also training your brain to listen in a new way and consistency is key.
If you are the family member or loved one of someone who is resistant to wearing their hearing aids, show them small gestures of support by buying them a package of hearing aid batteries or offering to accompany them to fitting appointments.
9. Straight Up
If you think that you or a family member could be suffering from disabling hearing loss, it is important to schedule an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional as soon as possible. Offer to accompany them, or ask a loved one to accompany you. This simple gesture of support can go a very long way.
At ALLSound Hearing, we provide comprehensive hearing health services. We can administer a hearing exam, give a thorough diagnosis, and determine the best course toward recovery.
10. ALLSound Hearing
The benefits are plenty when you have your hearing tested and maintain a dialogue with your hearing health care professional. Contact us at ALLSound Hearing today to learn more.