Communication with a person who has hearing loss can be stressful for both parties. Even when hearing aids are used, proper communication strategies are essential for maximizing the experience. Try the following tips when you or a loved one is hearing impaired.
When speaking with a person with hearing loss…
- Maintain eye contact with the hearing-impaired individual, facing him or her directly. Do not attempt to hold a conversation from another room; visual cues are an important component of successful communication.
- Make sure you have the person’s attention before beginning a conversation. It helps to state their name so they are aware you’re addressing them.
- Speak slowly and concisely. Resist the temptation to shout, which can lead to distorted speech and make your words more difficult to understand. Pause between sentences to ensure what you are saying is understood.
- Try to find a quiet area free of background noise, which can be distracting and cause the hearing-impaired individual to miss out on much of what you are saying.
- Repeat yourself if necessary. Try using a different word or rephrasing your sentence if it is too confusing. Refrain from complex words and phrases.
- Supplement your conversation by writing down important information. This might include jotting down the topic you will be discussing beforehand.
- Pay attention to the listener. If he or she looks confused, offer to clarify what you have just said.
If you are experiencing hearing loss…
- Communicate what your needs are. Do you need to move to a well-lit area? Do you want to stand close to the speaker? Should you move your conversation to a quieter room? Let the other person know.
- Anticipate difficult situations and make a plan to minimize them. This includes offering to host social events, recommending quiet restaurants or being sure to wear your hearing aids at all times.
- Pay attention to the conversation and keep your eyes on the speaker. They may use visual clues to help you understand better.
- Don’t interrupt. As the conversation flows, you may gain greater understanding of what is being said.
- React to what is being said so the speaker knows whether or not you understand what they’re saying.
- Be honest. Admit when you don’t understand, and communicate what can be improved.