Two women having a conversation outside

Communication in the presence of hearing loss can be difficult—for both sides. For those with hearing loss, limited hearing can be stressful and tiring, and for their communication companions, the constant repeating can be just as taxing.

But the frustration can be lessened provided that both parties take responsibility for successful communication. Since communication is a two way process, both parties should collaborate to conquer the challenges of hearing loss.

The following are a few useful tips for effective communication.

Tips for those with hearing loss

If you have hearing loss:

  • Strive for complete disclosure; don’t just state that you have difficulty hearing. Explain the cause of your hearing loss and supply tips for the other person to best converse with you.
  • Suggest to your conversation partner things like:
    • Maintain small distances in between us
    • Face to face interaction is best
    • Get my attention prior to speaking to me
    • Speak slowly and clearly without shouting
  • Choose quiet areas for conversations. Lessen background noise by shutting off music, choosing a quiet booth at a restaurant, or finding a quiet room at home.
  • Retain a sense of humor. Our patients frequently have happy memories of outrageous misunderstandings that they can now laugh about.

Keep in mind that people are typically empathetic, but only if you take the time to explain your situation. If your conversation partner is cognizant of your difficulties and preferences, they’re significantly less likely to become agitated when communication is disrupted.

Tips for those without hearing loss

If your conversation partner has hearing loss:

  • Get the person’s attention before speaking. Don’t yell from across the room and face the person when speaking.
  • Make sure the person can see your lips and enunciate your words diligently. Hold a consistent volume in your speech.
  • Limit background noise by finding 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 from time to time, and remember that this is not caused by a lack of intelligence on their part.
  • Never use the phrase “never mind.” This expression is dismissive and implies that the person is not worth having to repeat what was important enough to say in the first place.

When communication fails, it’s easy to pin the blame on the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.

As an example, consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has average hearing, and they are having serious communication issues. John is convinced Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary thinks John is using his hearing loss as a justification to be inattentive.

Instead, what if John searched for ways to develop his listening skills, and provided advice 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 accepting responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the difficulties. This is the only way to better communication.

Do you have any communication recommendations you’d like to include? Let us know in a comment.