By Joel Curtis
While it may be more difficult to interact with others if you have hearing loss, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to engage in a conversation with them. You don’t necessarily need a hearing aid to improve communication with others, what you need is a simple lifestyle change and the confidence to help make things easier for you.
Here are some key tips on how to communicate better despite hearing loss.
Don’t be afraid to tell others about your hearing loss
There’s nothing wrong with telling others about your hearing loss. Simply making other people aware of your hearing loss can provide you with some peace of mind and help you feel more comfortable when communicating with them.
- If you let others know about your hearing loss, they will be more inclined to communicate with you carefully. They will now look at you more, especially when you are talking, and will talk more slowly when it’s their turn.
- Letting others know will also help you in case you miss a word or get confused in the middle of a conversation, they will understand that it’s due to hearing loss and not because you are not paying attention to them.
Use your eyes effectively
Just because you have hearing loss, it doesn’t mean that you can’t engage in conversations. You still have your eyes that you can use to understand what the conversation is all about.
- Get as close as possible to the person who’s speaking and make sure you can clearly see their lips. Lip reading is one of the most effective ways you can communicate if you have challenges hearing.
- Don’t start conversations with someone from another room, or across the room.
- Don’t pretend that you understand something even though you didn’t hear it properly (bluffing).
- Also, it’s important to let those you’re communicating with that you can’t hear everything, especially if it’s really noisy.
Keep track of the conversation
Although it’s hard to keep track of a conversation when you have hearing loss, you can still do it if you can pay attention.
- If possible, try asking the person speaking to repeat what he/she just said. This will allow you to be sure that you’re keeping up with the conversation and will save you from embarrassment later on.
- Avoid saying “what” or “huh,” when you missed something. You can instead try to be more specific with what you missed in a conversation.
- Avoid asking the speaker to repeat everything he/she just said, just try to gather the parts that you found difficult to understand.
- Be more specific about what you need or want. If the conversation is too fast or if the speaker is speaking way too softly, you can ask your conversation partner to slow down a bit or speak louder so you can follow them properly.
You have to deal with the noise
It becomes more challenging for people with hearing loss to keep track of a conversation especially if there’s too much noise or two or more people are speaking simultaneously.
- Public places provide a challenging situation for people with hearing loss. Public parks, noisy restaurants, or other places with noisy crowds should be avoided as much as possible because you’ll find it difficult to be able to communicate properly with other people if there’s too much noise.
- If you can’t avoid the noise, try to sit in front of the person you want to hear and get as close to him/her so you can do lip reading.
Get hearing aids and wear them always
Hearing aids are arguably the most helpful device for people with hearing loss. They allow people with hearing loss to listen better, communicate better, and participate more in different activities.
- It’s important to note, however, that hearing aids are not capable of restoring your hearing back to normal.
- Hearing aids are devices designed to improve your hearing by making sound audible to people who are hearing-impaired.
- With hearing aids, you can now hear sounds that may have been inaudible before, such as doorbells ringing, the sound of the water running, the birds singing outside, etc.
Always be patient
You can’t be frustrated with yourself because of your hearing loss. You have to learn to be patient with yourself if you really want to communicate better with others. The same can also be said with your friends, family, loved ones, etc. who know of your hearing loss. They must also be understanding when talking to you.
- Try not to get frustrated when you find it difficult to communicate with someone. Remind yourself that you are able to communicate, don’t let your hearing loss get the best of you.
- Discuss any issues you come across with your friends and family, they’re your support system and they’ll be able to provide you with suggestions or additional help when you’re in situations where communication is difficult.
Anyone with hearing loss still has the ability to communicate better with other people. It all depends on the person and what strategy he/she is going to use.
Look for ways to help improve your hearing and make communication better with other people. If possible, you should seek treatment and counseling from a qualified professional to discuss all of your available options for hearing improvement.
Joel Curtis is a registered Psychologists with Endeavour Wellness and has over 17 years of experience. Joel holds a Masters’ Degree in Psychology from Western Sydney University. Joel owns a number of private practices in Sydney, Australia and provides expert content for several national TV and Radio programs.
*title image courtesy flckr