Communication is an important and powerful tool that either strengthens or harms your relationships with others. When hearing starts to fail, so does your ability to communicate. The following are some tips to help you improve your communication skills despite hearing loss.
When you’re speaking, maintaining eye contact is important. Unfortunately, many partners fall into the habit of talking to each other from different rooms. Communicating this way is not ideal because it removes all visual cues. The best ways to ensure a listener's attention are to say the person’s name before speaking and to maintain eye contact throughout the conversation.
If you’re talking too quickly, people will have difficulty understanding you. They will not be able to process everything you are saying clearly. If you are a naturally quick speaker, focus on training yourself to slow down and enunciate your words, especially when talking to someone with hearing loss.
Since we are familiar with wearing masks, we understand how much we rely upon facial and mouth movement to follow a conversation. When you are speaking, remember to face the person you are talking to, allowing him to see your expressions and read your lips. These visual cues will help him better understand you.
Dealing With Background Noise
Almost always, people struggling with communication will complain about background noise. The following are some ways to solve this issue:
- While speaking at home, mute the television or music.
- At a restaurant, ask to be seated outside or in a booth. The signal-to-noise ratio outside is normally more suitable for conversation, and sitting in a booth cushions surrounding noise and keeps conversations private.
- Dine out before or after peak business hours. To find these hours, you can contact the restaurant or research online.
Before considering a hearing evaluation, take a few weeks to implement these strategies and see if you notice an improvement in communication.
Case in Point
Once, I had a patient complain that his wife mumbles and doesn’t speak clearly. When I asked him if he thought he had hearing loss, he replied, “I would be surprised if I do. I feel like I can hear everyone at work really well.”
The results of his hearing evaluation indicated a mild high frequency hearing loss, only enough to impede his ability to understand young children and women. The most common complaint patients have with this type of hearing loss is that others are mumbling all the time.
After we counseled him about the importance of amplifying only the areas that his hearing loss affected, he decided to try a pair of hearing aids to see if he noticed a difference at home. After noticing an improvement, he kept the hearing aids.
You’re Not Alone
Hearing evaluations are vital to everyday life. Hearing loss progresses slowly over time, and many patients don’t realize they have hearing loss until it becomes a problem.