Two women having a conversation outside

Communication in the presence of hearing loss can be frustrating—for both parties. For individuals with hearing loss, partial hearing can be upsetting and draining, and for their communication companions, the frequent repeating can be equally taxing.

But the difficulty can be mitigated provided that both parties assume responsibility for effective conversation. Since communication is a two way process, each parties should collaborate to beat the obstacles of hearing loss.

The following are a few useful tips for effective communication.

Tips for those with hearing loss

If you suffer from hearing loss:

  • Aim at full disclosure; don’t simply point out that you have difficulty hearing. Detail 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 short distances in between us
    • Face-to-face interaction is best
    • Get my attention prior to talking to me
    • Talk slowly and clearly without yelling
  • Choose tranquil locations for conversations. Lessen background noise by shutting off music, looking for a quiet table at a restaurant, or finding a quiet room at home.
  • Retain a sense of humor. Our patients often have affectionate memories of ridiculous misunderstandings that they can now laugh about.

Bear in mind that people are typically empathetic, but only if you take some time to clarify your position. If your conversation partner is conscious of your challenges and requirements, they’re less likely to become agitated when communication is disrupted.

Guidelines for those without hearing loss

If your communication partner has hearing loss:

  • Get the person’s attention before speaking. Don’t yell from across the room and face the person when talking.
  • Make sure the person can see your lips and enunciate your words carefully. Preserve a consistent volume in your speech.
  • Limit background noise by finding quiet areas for conversations. 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 a comprehension problem. Be ready 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 suggests that the person is not worthy of having to repeat what was significant enough to say originally.

When communication fails, it’s convenient to blame the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.

As an example, consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has normal hearing, and they are having considerable communication issues. John thinks 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 discovered tactics to enhance his listening skills, and provided tips for Mary to communicate better? At the same time, 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 problems. This is the only way to better communication.

Do you have any communication guidelines you’d like to include? Tell us in a comment.

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