Communicating in the presence of hearing loss can be difficult—for both sides. For people with hearing loss, partial hearing can be stressful and exhausting, and for their conversation partners, the frequent repeating can be equally taxing.
But the challenge can be lessened as long as both parties take responsibility for successful conversation. Since communication is a two way process, the two parties should collaborate to conquer the obstacles of hearing loss.
Listed below are some useful tips for effective communication.
Guidelines for those with hearing loss
If you have hearing loss:
- Go for complete disclosure; don’t just point out that you have difficulty hearing. Explain the cause of your hearing loss and supply tips for the other person to best communicate with you.
- Suggest to your communication partner things like:
- Maintain small distances in between us
- Face-to-face interaction is best
- Get my attention prior to talking with me
- Speak slowly and clearly without shouting
- Search for tranquil areas for conversations. Limit background noise by shutting off music, finding 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 have a good laugh about.
Bear in mind that people are generally empathetic, but only when you take the time to clarify your situation. If your conversation partner is cognizant of your challenges and requirements, they’re much less likely to become irritated when communication is disrupted.
Guidelines for those without hearing loss
If your communication partner has hearing loss:
- Gain the person’s attention prior to speaking. Don’t shout from across the room and face the person when speaking.
- Make sure the person can see your lips and articulate your words carefully. Sustain a consistent volume in your speech.
- Reduce background noise by finding quiet areas for discussions. Turn off the TV or radio.
- In groups, ensure that 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 on occasion, and remember that this is not the result of a lack of intelligence on their part.
- Never say “never mind.” This phrase is dismissive and implies that the person is not worthy of having to repeat what was important enough to say originally.
When communication fails, it’s convenient 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 major communication problems. John thinks Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary believes that John is using his hearing loss as a reason to be inattentive.
As an alternative, what if John discovered techniques to improve his listening skills, and provided advice 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 taking responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the problems. This is the only way to better communication.
Do you have any communication guidelines you’d like to include? Let us know in a comment.