Very frustratingly, some individuals will just shrug you off when asking for a repetition “never mind” rather than repeat what they said. Except for then missing out on what was said – it can also cause friction in relationships, familial or working relationships.
Losing your hearing is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about, it actually is extremely common. Hearing loss will most likely affect us all at some point in our lifetime to a varying degree. It’s important to be open about it with one another, it will assist in improving communication with minimal interruption or need for repetition. If both parties are on the same page about each others’ hearing needs, it will result in better conversation all around.
Here are some tips that you can use to make communication for someone with hearing loss and even hearing aids a bit easier..
1. Face the person when talking
Face-to-face conversation makes it clear who you’re talking to, but also allows the person to interpret what is being said easier without visual interruptions. Talking to someone from another room will definitely make it harder to hear. Also, when talking in a more noisy environment, the ability to use lip movement for added context is warmly welcomed.
2. Ensure good lighting
Visual cues are critical to follow for individuals with hearing loss, good lighting on the face of the speaker will assist in recognizing words and visual cues to assist.
3. Repeat information if they miss something or inform them that they have missed information
If you say something and realize that it wasn’t heard correctly the first time, rather repeat or rephrase what you said. Signs of mishearing something usually includes the change of facial expressions, prolonged answering time while what was heard or missed is being processed or figured out. Rather don’t skip that part of the conversation.
4. Don’t start talking from another room
Don’t try to initiate a conversation from another room. It’s common have trouble locating and localizing the direction a sound is coming from. It can also make for added difficulty if the hard of hearing individual is not aware you’re speaking to them at first. The quality of the speech signal is also affected by the time it reaches the persons ears.
5. Say the person’s name before beginning a conversation
Getting someone’s attention before speaking to them is always important, but even more so for those of us with hearing loss. Engage them in the conversation by using their first name. Never assume someone can hear what you told them, or that they are paying attention before looking at you. Once you’ve gotten their attention, make sure to maintain face-to-face conversation if possible.
6. Rephrase what you said
If a person misheard something, avoid raising your voice or simply continue the conversation. Rather attempt to reword the original message / sentence. Being asked to repeat something multiple times is much less pleasant for the person doing the asking then the person being asked.
7. Please! Don’t shout!
Increasing the volume or shouting can potentially distort words, plus -most people perceive it as rude, angry or irritated. Rather than yelling, rephrasing of sentences, slowing down your speech, and clear pronunciation will assist the person more effectively.
8. Speak naturally
Speaking too slowly may make some individuals feel uncomfortable, too fast will definitely be difficult to follow. Speak as you would, and keep in mind the previous tips.
9. Reduce background noise as much as possible
In public settings, there is often background noises competing with the sound of your voice. Of course, this all depends on where you live. The countryside surely makes for an easier listening environment than a construction-filled city. If the place you’re at is just too loud, you may want to suggest moving to another setting. In such cases, it is even more important to speak to the person face-to-face. A great help is that when you are in a noisy environment, position the seating arrangement in a way that the majority of background noise is behind the person with hearing loss.
10. Don’t get frustrated.
Try keeping positive attitude and don’t get frustrated if you’ve been asked to repeat something a few times, rather ask how you can improve their ability to hear.
11. Keep non verbal communication in mind
Keep in mind how you can improve the message by using non verbal communication such as facial expressions, gestures, and posture. often even more than the words themselves. Your face and body help create the context of a story you are telling.
12. Do some more listening
Hearing loss is draining most of the time, the person with the hearing loss works hard to understand what you’re saying. If a conversation is lasting a long time, take a break and let the other person talk for a bit.
13. Be understanding.
It is critical that the person with a hearing loss experience that you have patience with their challenge, it will automatically put them at ease and allowing them to concentrate on what is being said better.
14. Use other communication methods
Sending texts and using emails have been extremely helpful to ensure everyone’s involvement in the conversation. If a family member has a hearing loss, group chats can work wonders to create a more inclusive bond.
15. Understand that hearing aid stigma is real.
It’s not always easy for someone to look past stigma of hearing aids. Many hearing aid users take great pride in them but others are not accepting of the idea at all. A lack of wanting to look older or “age” oneself can create a denial that serves as defense mechanisms that prevent your loved one from seeking professional treatment.
Look up hearing loss support groups in your community, or online.
Both on Facebook and in local communities, there are groups that help others learn to accept and live with their hearing loss. If your friend or loved one is experiencing feelings of social isolation or depression related to hearing loss, these groups can be a helpful outlet. If you recognize your friend or loved one shutting themselves off from the world more often, make sure they know they are not alone and have people who can share what they’re going through.
Have an honest talk about their hearing loss.
A nudge in the right direction shows them that you care. If hearing loss is creating a communication issue within relationship, don’t let it passively grow into larger problem before addressing it. Many partners of hard of hearing individuals avoid potential confrontation and continue to let their loved ones avoid treatment. An untreated hearing loss that continues to worsen is guaranteed to create more significant health issues down the line. It is also important to know that some individuals with hearing aids will still experience challenges with hearing aids, depending on the degree and nature of the hearing loss and especially in difficult to listen environments.
Suggest a visit to the Audiologist, and have your hearing tested too.
Be a motivating force in the life of a friend or loved on with untreated hearing loss. If they have a untreated hearing loss, recommend a visit to your local hearing center and/or Audiologist for a routine hearing test. Audiologists agree that having a second person with you during the hearing screening is very beneficial. The other person becomes a valuable point of reference to reduce potential nerves and help serve as anchor.
A loved one isn’t just your significant other, it can also include your parents, grandparents, or even just a friend you’re looking out for. If there’s someone in your life that is having trouble with their hearing, encourage them to get a professional opinion from a specialist. At the very least, you can shower your loved one with praise, positive affirmations, and TLC.
You can help your loved one actively take steps to improve their hearing that will make a lasting difference in their overall quality of life. One of the first ways would be recommending the use of hearing aids. Modern technology has come a long way in helping others take back their hearing and is only getting better.
Scheduling a visit to a hearing clinic is the first step. Make the effort together. Your local audiologist or hearing aid professional is equipped to handle and explain the objections and hesitations your loved one may have.