How can I improve communication?
Most of us do not think about how we communicate with others until something goes wrong. It is not until we get cut off in mid-sentence or when we misunderstand what someone has said to us that we begin to reevaluate how we converse. But for those with hearing loss, these occurrences are an everyday reality that they have to face. Whether it is communicating with a loved one, co-worker, or friend, there are many ways to ensure everyone can be on the same page. By using certain strategies and being aware of potential obstacles, you can help make communication easier for everyone involved.
Get their attention
When you’re talking to a loved one with hearing loss, it’s important to make sure that they are able to follow the conversation from the start. Grab their attention before you begin speaking by saying their name or lightly touching their arm. If they hear better out of one ear, be mindful of speaking to them from that side. And if you’re in a group, make sure that your loved one is facing the group so that they can see people’s faces and read their lips.
Sustain eye contact
In order to improve communication with a loved one with hearing loss, it is essential to face them and make eye contact. This will help them to see your facial expressions and body language, which can provide additional clues about the message you are trying to convey. For example, if you are cheerful and lively, your loved one will be able to see this in your face and body movements. On the other hand, if you are confused or frustrated, they will also be able to tell from your expressions.
Try not to obstruct your face
When we talk, our hands naturally want to go up to our face – whether we’re rubbing our eyes, scratching our nose, or adjusting our glasses. However, it’s crucial to try to keep our hands away from our faces when we’re speaking. Not only will this facilitate clearer speech, but it will also allow the listener to make use of visual cues. By keeping our mouth and face visible, our loved ones will be able to see the facial expressions and mouth movements associated with what we are saying.
Through a process known as speechreading, most listeners can improve their perception of a conversation by observing the speaker’s face. While speechreading doesn’t provide perfect understanding, it can help to fill in the gaps when some sounds are hard to detect. Additionally, keep in mind that obstructions like thick beards and mustaches and chewing while speaking all make it much more difficult for a loved one to read you when you talk.
Be relaxed and natural
It is vital to enunciate your words clearly without shouting. Exaggerating your speech can actually distort the words and make them more difficult to understand. Instead, try to speak at a steady pace and utilize pauses to give your loved one time to process what you are saying. It is also helpful to provide them with clues when you are changing subjects, such as saying “new topic” before starting a new conversation.
Focus on rephrasing
If at any point your loved one appears to be having difficulty understanding what you are saying, be sure to take steps to clarify your meaning. One way to do this is to simply repeat yourself once. Then, if they still have a hard time comprehending, try rephrasing what you said using different words with the same meaning. When all else fails, you can always ask your loved one what they did not get and just repeat that phrase or word.
Choose appropriate settings
If you find yourself in a situation where there’s too much background noise, try to take steps to reduce the noise level. Turning off the radio or television can help, as well as relocating to a quieter place. If you’re at a restaurant or making dinner reservations, remember to ask for seating that is situated away from loud areas like the kitchen, server stations, or large groups.
Well-lit areas are crucial
Good lighting is key, as it will help your loved one see your face while you are speaking. Strong lighting that comes in from behind you, however, can create a glare that makes it difficult for them to see you. So when you’re choosing a seat at a restaurant, for example, look for a spot that has good overall lighting and avoid any areas where there might be a brilliant light source at your back.
Utilize smartphone technology
In today’s high-tech world, there are many alternative ways to communicate with a loved one who has hearing loss. One popular option is to use a smartphone app that converts spoken words into text. This can be very helpful in situations where it is difficult to speak loudly or slowly enough for them to understand. Another option is to use text messaging. This can be especially useful for short conversations or when you and your loved one are in exceedingly noisy environments.
Schedule a hearing test
One of the best things you can do for your relationships and to improve your communication is take care of your hearing health.
Hearing loss is a prevalent condition and is a natural part of life for many people over the age of 65. An annual hearing test will help you keep track of your hearing health and ensure that you receive proper treatment if a hearing loss is detected.
If you are ready to experience the life-changing benefits of hearing loss treatment, contact us today!