Two women having a conversation outside

Communication in the presence of hearing loss can be trying—for both parties. For individuals with hearing loss, limited hearing can be stressful and tiring, and for their communication partners, the frequent repeating can be equally taxing.

But the frustration can be alleviated provided that both parties take responsibility for profitable communication. Since communication is a two way process, each parties should work together to conquer the difficulties of hearing loss.

Here are some helpful tips for effective communication.

Tips for those with hearing loss

If you suffer from hearing loss:

  • Aim at complete disclosure; don’t just say that you have trouble hearing. Identify the cause of your hearing loss and provide recommendations for the other person to best communicate with you.
  • Suggest to your conversation partner things like:
    • Keep short distances between us
    • Face-to-face communication is best
    • Get my attention prior to speaking to me
    • Talk slowly and clearly without yelling
  • Find tranquil areas for conversations. Limit background noise by turning off music, looking for a quiet booth at a restaurant, or identifying a quiet room at home.
  • Retain a sense of humor. Our patients often have affectionate memories of absurd misunderstandings that they can now chuckle about.

Keep in mind that people are ordinarily empathetic, but only when you make the effort to clarify your situation. If your communication partner is conscious of your challenges and requirements, they’re far less likely to become agitated when communication is disrupted.

Tips for those without hearing loss

If your conversation partner has hearing loss:

  • Gain the person’s attention before speaking. Don’t yell from across the room and face the person when talking.
  • Make sure the person can see your lips and articulate your words carefully. Hold a consistent volume in your speech.
  • Reduce background noise by choosing quiet areas for conversations. Turn off the TV or radio.
  • In groups, ensure that only one person is speaking at a time.
  • Remember that for those with hearing loss, it is a hearing problem, not an understanding problem. Be prepared to have to repeat yourself on occasion, and remember that this is not due to a lack of intelligence on their part.
  • Never use the phrase “never mind.” This phrase is dismissive and indicates that the person is not worth having to repeat what was important enough to say originally.

When communication breaks down, it’s convenient to blame the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.

As an example, consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has normal hearing, and they are having major communication problems. John is convinced Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary believes John is using his hearing loss as an excuse to be inattentive.

As an alternative, what if John found methods to enhance his listening skills, and provided tips for Mary to communicate better? Simultaneously, what if Mary did the same and attempted to find ways that she could communicate more clearly.

Now, both John and Mary are taking responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the problems. This is the only route to better communication.

Do you have any communication tips you’d like to include? Tell us in a comment.

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