It takes two to tango, as the saying goes. Or in this case, it takes two parties to have successful communication–a talker and a listener. If one of the parties is experiencing hearing loss, the seemingly simple act of communication can feel frustrating or be confusing for both sides of the conversation. Instead of avoiding a conversation, follow these tips to better communicate with the hearing-impaired.
- Maximize visibility of faces. Face each other directly and take advantage of good lighting when possible. Give your brain the ability to read facial cues and lip reading. Hold off on having serious conversations at dimly lit restaurants or concerts.
- Ensure your mouth is unobstructed by keeping your hands away from your face and avoiding eating, smoking, or chewing gum while in conversation. Beards and mustaches also make lip reading a lot harder.
- Minimize extraneous noise or distance. Background noise can make it significantly harder for a hearing-impaired person to hear and understand you. Turn off the TV or music. Steer clear of big air conditioners and other sources of household noise. And yelling from another room can be challenging to understand for anyone, regardless of their hearing health.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Avoid speaking too fast or in an overly complicated manner. Don’t succumb to the impulse of shouting or exaggerating gestures and mouth movements which can quickly feel offensive. If your listener hasn’t understood your message, try to find another way to phrase what you’re saying instead. Exaggerate you mouth movements when speaking to make it easier for the person to read your lips.
- Be aware of better ears. If your friend or loved one hear better in one ear, try to be sensitive to this and position yourself accordingly.
- Rephrase key information. If someone is having a hard time understanding a particular word, try using a different word or change the sentence around so they can have different information to help them figure out what you are saying.
- Repeat key information. If you need to communicate essential details, such as times, address, or phone number, be sure to confirm the specifics to ensure that the listener hasn’t mistaken an “s” for an “f” and ends up on the wrong street. Better yet, write it down.
- Be aware of body language. If you’re noticing a confused look or hesitation, chances are your listener may not have understood what you’re saying. Pay attention to clues or behaviors that may indicate any confusion or difficulty understanding and follow-up with concise clarity.
Following these tips can make communicating / having a conversation much smoother for all parties involved. If you’re concerned about changes to your hearing or hearing loss, click here to book a consultation with our audiologist today, or contact us at (212) 786-5741.