If you suffer from hearing loss, you have probably experienced frustration at not being able to follow a conversation or being left out of conversations altogether. You have probably also been on the receiving end of other’s frustrations when you have to ask them to repeat something for the second or third time. The following are strategies that you and those you speak with on a regular basis can use to ensure that you do not miss out on what is being said.
Be Upfront About Your Hearing Loss:
You can eliminate frustrations and misunderstandings for both you and your conversation partner if you let them know about your hearing loss. The person that you are talking to can then adjust their speech, where they are sitting, or other environmental factors to make it easier for you to hear. You also will not be perceived as being rude if you happen not to respond when they something.
Getting Your Attention:
Ask your conversation partner to say your name or touch your arm to get your attention before speaking. This will allow you to shift your focus so that you will be less likely to have to ask the speaker to repeat themselves.
Get Face to Face:
Facial expressions and lip movements can make it easier for you to follow a conversation. When possible, ask your conversation partner to sit directly across from you. You should also make sure that the room is light enough for you to see their mouth clearly.
No Need to Shout:
If someone tries to compensate for your hearing loss by shouting or exaggerating their mouth movements, remind them that it is easier for you to hear if they speak naturally and clearly. Do not be afraid to ask people to speak at a rate and volume that are only slightly slower and louder than normal to keep the words from becoming distorted.
Ask People to Sit on Your “Good Side”:
Most people with hearing loss have one ear that is stronger than the other. When possible, reposition yourself or ask the person that you are speaking with to sit on the side with the best hearing.
Minimize Distractions and Background Noise:
When at home, turn off televisions, radios, and other loud noises that can compete with the conversation. When out at restaurants or other social situations, try to find a table away from the front door, kitchen, or noisy areas. If possible, try to arrange the outing for a time when the restaurant is less congested so that it will be quieter.
Consider the Room Acoustics:
Large rooms with high ceilings and rooms with lots of tile and hard surfaces can distort sound and make it difficult to understand speech. At home or work, try to use carpeting, rugs, and other soft surfaces to keep sound from reverberating. In public places, you may have to ask the person that you are speaking with to speak slower than normal and to pause between sentences to minimize the distortion and overlap between words.
Rephrase Instead of Repeat:
Instead of simply asking your conversation partner to repeat themselves, ask them to rephrase what they said. A different choice of words may be easier to understand or provide context to help you understand what is being said.