Communication Tips for The Person with Hearing Loss

If you have hearing loss, there are many steps you can take to improve your listening experience and reduce the anxiety that often accompanies interacting with others.

1. Control your environment.

If you’re hosting a event or choosing a meeting place, keep the following features in mind:

– Quiet, with little background noise

– Carpets, soft surfaces, lower ceilings to reduce reverberation

– Good lighting

– Seating that allows you to see the speaker’s face

2. Anticipate and prepare.

Before going to a social event or a meeting, you can take steps to make the experience easier for yourself. Here are some ideas:

• Meditate before the event. We tend to hear better when we’re more relaxed.

• Be aware of current events. Get yourself up to speed on topics that people will likely be chatting about.

• For meetings at work:

– ask if you can get a copy of the agenda in advance.

– ask a co-worker if they can take meeting minutes for you, or highlight the important points.

• Review names of party guests/meeting attendees before arriving.

3. Share communication tips with the speaker.

For example, you might request that he or she:

– Face you when speaking

– Speak clearly

– Not eat while speaking to you

– Tell you what the key topic is

– Alert you when he/she is changing the subject

– Turn down background noise if possible

4. Use conversational strategies.

During a conversation, you may need to request the speaker repeat something, rephrase, or confirm what you think you heard:

– Request the speaker to repeat. Example: Could you please repeat what you said?

– Request the speaker to rephrase. Example: Please tell me what you just said in a different way.

– Request for confirmation. Example: Did you just say you would like to meet at 5pm?

– Request the speaker to repeat only what you did not understand. Example: I heard you say you will be there at 5pm, but I did not hear the location. Could you repeat where we are meeting?

5. Acknowledge the speaker.

If you’ve asked the speaker to use communication strategies to help you better understand, always convey your appreciation for his or her efforts.

6. Be patient!

Just as we expect others to be patient of us and our hearing loss, we too must be patient of them. We cannot expect people to change their communication habits after asking them just once or twice. We might need to remind someone many times, for example, to face us while speaking or to enunciate, before it actually starts to sink in.

7. Keep a sense of humor!

Sometimes the funniest moments come from those moments we misheard something. If we keep things light, then others will also feel more comfortable in communicating with us.

8. Practice acceptance.

There are certain situations in which we will not be able to hear everything – or perhaps much of anything – being said. If you’re at a loud bar with music blasting and people screaming over each other, chances are you will not be able to converse much. Sometimes we just need to accept the situation and make the best of it.