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Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

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Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD
Latest posts by Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD (see all)

When you have hearing loss, communication can be a struggle. Treating your hearing loss with a quality pair of hearing devices goes a long way to making communication easier and relieving many of the frustrations of hearing loss. With hearing aids, you won’t face loneliness or isolation, but learning a few tips for communicating with hearing loss will help you foster your relationships and be an even better communicator.

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Communicating with hearing loss can be a challenge, so keep these tips in mind as you communicate with family and friends, and enjoy better conversations.

Be open about your hearing loss: When you’re having conversations, be open about your hearing loss. Letting your conversation partner know about your hearing loss at the beginning of the conversation will facilitate clear communication. Ask them to help you hear better by speaking a bit slower, or sitting on the side of your better ear, and be upfront about your needs.

Get rid of distractions: If you’re at home or at a friend’s house, get rid of distractions by turning down the music, turning off the TV, and turning down fans or anything else adding to the noise in the space. A quiet environment will make it easier to communicate and follow conversations.

Turn up the lights: Dim lighting might set the mood, but if you have hearing loss, you rely on your sight to give you extra information. You pick up on body language and facial expressions, and you need to see clearly in order to communicate effectively. Make sure the lights are bright enough that you can easily see your conversation partner.

Choose your seat wisely: When you’re in a group conversation, choose your seat wisely. Try to sit in a place where you can easily see most people’s faces, such as the head of foot of the table, or choose a seat in the middle of the table where you’ll be able to hear more of the conversation. Where you sit can make a big difference when it comes to clear communication.

Don’t be afraid to laugh: When you have hearing loss it’s important to have a good sense of humor. You might mishear a comment or question, and you’ll sometimes answer inappropriately. Don’t worry about this miscommunication and don’t be afraid to laugh about it. Ask that someone repeats what’s been said and try again.

Check if you’ve heard correctly: You may not have heard everything, but you think you got the gist of what was said. Take a guess at what was said, and don’t be afraid of getting it wrong. You’ve probably picked up more that you think from the non-verbal cues. Check if you’ve heard correctly before moving on, and make sure you and your conversation partner are on the same page.

Rest when you need to: Hearing loss can be exhausting, and as you get more tired it can be more difficult to understand what’s been said. If you’ve been straining to hear for the whole day, give yourself permission to rest when you need to, and take a break from a conversation if you’re too tired. Your brain is working hard to help you hear, so give yourself time to rest in a quiet area before rejoining the conversation.

Avoid peak times at restaurants: If you’re planning to have dinner at a restaurant with your family, try to arrive early. Rather than eating during peak hours, having dinner even an hour earlier can help you beat the crowds, and enjoy dinner in the restaurant before it’s packed and noisy.

Ask for Help

Communication is a two-way street, and you can ask for help whenever you need it. Follow all these tips for communicating with hearing loss and ask for help whenever you need it. Be clear in your instructions, and always let your friends and family know how much you appreciate their help. Your friends can help you hear clearly by:

    • Getting your attention before they start speaking.
    • Always facing you when speaking so you can see their facial expressions.
    • Rephrasing something you didn’t understand.
    • Telling you the conversation subject if you join a conversation in the middle.
    • Writing something down to make sure you’ve understood.