If you live with someone who you believe has hearing loss, communication can be frustrating. You may find yourself having to repeat yourself more often than not. You may find them to often seem disengaged when you are speaking and conflict over the volume of the television, and stereo can become a common fixture in your day.
It is important to recognize that they may be struggling with hearing loss and you may have better luck communicating when you use certain communication tactics. Even for the people in your life who wear hearing aids, these methods can often come in handy when their hearing aids are old, or not being worn.
Here are a few tips for successful communication for the people in your life with hearing loss.
Get Their Attention
For people with hearing loss it can be hard for them to know if you are speaking to them. When you get their attention before you start talking then they have time to focus and prepare to listen. You may try saying the person’s name or gently tapping them on the shoulder before you start speaking.
Make sure you maintain eye contact the entire time you speak to ensure that they are able to perceive what you are saying. This will help them focus and also gives them the ability to read your facial expression, body language and even lip read if needed.
No Need to Yell
It is all too common for people to feel that a raised voice will help people with hearing loss understand what they are saying. This can come off as aggressive and insulting, closing off communication rather than helping.
In actuality, raising your voice when speaking to someone with a hearing impairment can actually distort your words making hearing even more of a challenge. Instead, try speaking clearly and slowly, enunciating each word.
You may want to try pausing at the end of sentences for a beat or two to give the hearing impaired listener time to comprehend, before you move on.
Clear Vision Helps Clear Hearing
For many who deal with hearing loss, they come to rely on visual cues to help supplement what they can’t hear. If someone is having a hard time hearing you, make sure your face is well lit so they have a clear view. Don’t block your face with your hands as many people come to rely on lip reading to comprehend.
In the time of common mask wearing in public, this can create a barrier for people with hearing issues. If you commonly talk to hearing impaired people while wearing a mask there are many clear masks available which can protect you and the other from germs, while still creating a clear view of your mouth for lip reading.
Rephrase Rather Than Repeat
One of the most common signs that someone is dealing with hearing loss is when they ask you to repeat yourself more and more often. It may be a certain word or tone which is lost to the listener’s ear that they need repeated. It can be helpful to re-phrase rather than repeat what you said. This adds context to what you are saying and presents different tones that may be easier for the listener to hear.
If they are still having an issue ask them which word in particular they are struggling with. You may also try asking leading or clarifying questions throughout the conversation to ensure your message is clear.
Avoid Louder Environments
Crowded restaurants, shopping areas, and loud social events can be a difficult place for people with a hearing disability to hearing in. Try to avoid these areas when you are trying to have an important conversation with someone with a hearing issue.
When you can eliminate background noise, like a radio, or noisy washing machine. If you can’t eliminate the noise try changing locations to a quieter setting. If you cannot, it is always helpful to write or text important information.
It can be incredibly frustrating for people on both sides of hearing loss. However, patience will be most effective in these situations. Using these communication strategies you will be able to speak to the people you love. Suggest to them in a loving way that it is time to have their hearing tested and let them know the benefits of using hearing aids. The more patient you are the more you can avoid resentment and allow them to seek the help they need.