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Two women having a conversation outside

Communication in the presence of hearing loss can be frustrating—for both parties. For individuals with hearing loss, limited hearing can be stressful and draining, and for their conversation companions, the frequent repeating can be just as taxing.

However, the frustration can be lessened as long as both parties assume responsibility for effective communication. Since communication is a two way process, both parties should collaborate to beat the difficulties of hearing loss.

Listed below are some useful tips for effective communication.

Guidelines for those with hearing loss

If you suffer from hearing loss:

  • Aim at full disclosure; don’t simply state that you have difficulty hearing. Describe the cause of your hearing loss and supply recommendations for the other person to best communicate with you.
  • Suggest to your conversation partner things like:
    • Maintain short distances in between us
    • Face to face interaction is best
    • Get my attention before talking to me
    • Talk slowly and clearly without screaming
  • Find tranquil places for conversations. Lessen background noise by shutting off music, locating a quiet booth at a restaurant, or identifying a quiet room at home.
  • Keep a sense of humor. Our patients frequently have fond memories of outrageous misunderstandings that they can now chuckle about.

Remember that people are normally empathetic, but only if you make an effort to explain your situation. If your communication partner is cognizant of your difficulties and preferences, they’re significantly 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 yell from across the room and face the person when talking.
  • Ensure that the person can see your lips and enunciate your words diligently. Sustain a consistent volume in your speech.
  • Limit background noise by finding quiet areas for conversations. Turn off the TV 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 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 expression is dismissive and indicates that the person is not worth having to repeat what was significant enough to say in the first place.

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

Consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has normal hearing, and they are having major communication problems. John is convinced Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary believes that John is using his hearing loss as a reason to be inattentive.

Instead, what if John searched for ways to enhance his listening skills, and offered 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 taking responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the difficulties. This is the only way to better communication.

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

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