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Two women having a conversation outside

Communication in the presence of hearing loss can be difficult—for both sides. For people with hearing loss, partial hearing can be upsetting and draining, and for their communication companions, the frequent repeating can be equally taxing.

However, the frustration can be mitigated as long as both parties assume responsibility for successful communication. Since communication is a two-way process, both parties should collaborate to conquer the obstacles of hearing loss.

Listed below are a few useful tips for effective communication.

Guidelines for those with hearing loss

If you have hearing loss:

  • Strive for complete disclosure; don’t simply point out that you have trouble hearing. Detail the cause of your hearing loss and supply tips for the other person to best converse with you.
  • Suggest to your communication partner things like:
    • Maintain small distances between us
    • Face to face communication is best
    • Get my attention before talking with me
    • Talk slowly and clearly without screaming
  • Choose tranquil locations for conversations. Limit background noise by turning off music, choosing a quiet table at a restaurant, or identifying a quiet room at home.
  • Retain a sense of humor. Our patients often have affectionate memories of outrageous misunderstandings that they can now chuckle about.

Remember that people are typically empathetic, but only when you make an effort to clarify your situation. If your conversation partner is mindful of your challenges and requirements, they’re less likely to become irritated when communication is disrupted.

Guidelines for those without hearing loss

If your communication partner has hearing loss:

  • Gain the person’s attention prior to speaking. Don’t yell from across the room and face the person when talking.
  • Make sure the person can see your lips and articulate your words carefully. Hold a consistent volume in your speech.
  • Reduce background noise by choosing quiet areas for discussions. Turn off the TV or radio.
  • In groups, make sure only one person is speaking at any given time.
  • Keep in mind that for those with hearing loss, it is a hearing problem, not an understanding problem. Be ready to repeat yourself on occasion, and remember that this is not due to a lack of intelligence on their part.
  • Never use the phrase “never mind.” This expression is dismissive and implies that the person is not worthy of having to repeat what was important enough to say originally.

When communication breaks down, it’s convenient to blame the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.

As an example, consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has average hearing, and they are having major communication problems. John thinks Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary thinks John is using his hearing loss as a justification to be inattentive.

Instead, what if John searched for techniques to improve his listening skills, and offered advice for Mary to communicate better? Simultaneously, what if Mary did the same and attempted to find ways that she could communicate more clearly.

Now, both John and Mary are accepting responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the difficulties. This is the only road to better communication.

Do you have any communication recommendations you’d like to add? Tell us in a comment.