If you live with hearing loss than you already know how isolating it can be. You must focus that much more, just to follow a casual conversation in passing at the grocery store. Social interactions take a lot of work and can often feel exhausting. Even if you have taken the important leap to invest in hearing aids, you understand that while these devices are incredibly supportive, they cannot restore your hearing entirely in all situations. Those around you who don’t suffer from hearing loss don’t always understand this. If you find that you struggle to communicate with your family, friends and co-workers with normal hearing, here are a few strategies you can suggest ensuring that you can hear your best around them.
Get their attention
It takes poise and focus to listen when you have a hearing impairment. Ask the people you communicate to give you a sign before they start speaking to you. Simply saying your name before speaking or having them tap you on the shoulder can give you time to prepare to listen.
Maintain Eye Contact
When speaking to others it helps immensely to look the speaker in the eye. The person with normal hearing can monitor your expression. The eye can say a lot and even clue a speaker in if you become lost or confused by something they’ve said due to your hearing impairment. In addition, maintaining eye contact gives the listener a clear view of your face. It’s common for people with hearing loss to compensate with visual cues. These include lip reading and facial expression. These added cues quickly become essential in fully understanding the intent of what is trying to be conveyed.
Speak Naturally and Clearly
Many people with normal hearing make the mistake of believing that shouting will help people with a hearing impairment hear clearer. On the contrary, shouting can distort sound and the mouth, for those who rely on lip reading. Instead of shouting suggest to others that they speak clearly, with a measured cadence and enunciate. Speaking too slow can be equally frustrating and can be misconstrued as condescension.
Keep a Clear View of Your Face
The popularity of masks has been a nightmare for the hearing-impaired community. Not only do masks muffle sound, making following conversation harder than ever before, but it inhibits the use of lip reading as well. When it’s safe it’s best to insist on having a clear view of the speaker’s face. As them not to cover their mouth with their hands or you can even suggest a clear mask if you find yourself in situations where masking is mandatory.
One of the most common signs of hearing loss is the need to ask people to repeat themselves. If you find that you are asking people you converse with to repeat themselves often, you may be able to suggest a more effective communication strategy. Ask people rather than to repeat a sentence, to rephrase it instead. Rephrasing may avoid a tone or sound which you particularly struggle with, as well as create added context from the previous statement. It can be hard to learn to communicate with others but with a commitment to continual advocacy around your hearing loss, you can build relationships where those in your life can learn to communicate with you with love, support, and care.
Avoid Excessive Background Noise
For most of us, especially those who use hearing aids, we can hear our best in quiet environments. However, the way that life is, we can’t always rely on being in ideal listening environments. It’s important that for those in our life, they understand that a busy restaurant, crowded party, or night club will not be the best environment for us to hear and converse. When you can ask the people in your life to turn down background noise such as radios and dishwashers when speaking with you and to avoid meeting in noisy setting to speak.
Noise can’t always be avoided. Some of us still work in busy offices and work environments. If people need to speak to you let them know that they need to employ multiple strategies for communication, such as the ones listed above. In addition, when it’s too noisy and you just can’t avoid it, carry a pen and paper to convey important messages.
If you suspect that you do have a hearing loss, it’s important to act. Schedule a hearing exam today. We can help you understand the extent of your hearing loss and help you find the best solution to hear in almost any situation.