How to communicate better with those with hearing loss
“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”
Communication is an essential part of our lives. Whether it’s with family or friends, the checker at the grocery store, the agent at our insurance company or someone else, effective communication can make all the difference.
Communication, effective communication, especially, is also something we can easily take for granted.
This becomes especially apparent when we or someone we’re communicating with has hearing loss. In these situations, it’s more important than ever to practice smart communication strategies that foster clarity instead of confusion.
The importance of effective communication
These days, many of us have different hearing abilities. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), almost 40 million American adults report some trouble hearing. This number continues to grow, meaning that if you don’t have hearing loss, chances are very good that at least some of those you interact with each day do.
Relying on the same old communication stand-bys may not be enough. That’s why following these four tips for effective communication can help everyone stay in the know while building stronger relationships along the way:
Face the person you’re speaking with – Whatever the situation, wait to begin speaking until you are face to face with the other person. We may not always consciously realize it, but much of our understanding of what we hear often comes from what we see of the other person’s lip and eye movements and other body language. Without these visual cues, we get an incomplete picture of the conversation, especially with hearing loss.
Keep the lines of communication open – In other words, lines of sight. Similar to waiting to be face to face with the other person, make sure that your hands are away from your face and mouth. This can prevent sound from being blocked and keep the view clear for others to take in lip movements.
Focus on clear and natural speak – It’s not uncommon for us to adjust our speech patterns when we know someone has hearing loss. This may mean speaking louder or slower in an effort to help the other person better understand. Unfortunately, this often makes the speech even harder to understand. Instead, whether the other person has hearing loss or not, stick with clear and natural speech.
Rephrase instead of repeating – We often don’t realize how difficult some words and phrases can be to hear or how similar some words can sound until we’ve experienced hearing loss. When your conversational partner asks for clarification or for you to repeat what you’ve said, rephrase your statement instead of merely repeating it. This can make it easier for the other person to understand.
Communication is a critical skill for everyone, regardless of hearing ability. It is also a skill that most of us can continue to improve with tips like these.
Make effective communication a priority in your everyday conversations and at the special events coming up to create clarity instead of confusion.
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty hearing the conversation, contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation.