Communication is one of the most important aspects of our daily lives. When a person has hearing loss, the quality of information they hear is impaired. Hearing aids alone are not always enough to compensate for the communication difficulties they experience. As a family member or a friend of someone with hearing loss, you can help reduce conversional difficulties by using good communication strategies. Since a good conversation involves two or more people, it is crucial that all individuals in a discussion use these strategies. Below are some tips to improve communication:
- Gain the listener’s attention: Before you begin speaking make an effort to gain their attention: Say the listener’s name, make eye contact, or touch their hand, arm or shoulder. This provides the listener a chance to focus and allows them to hear the first part of the conversation.
- Don’t shout: Shouting distorts the sound of speech and makes it more difficult for the listener to distinguish each word. Speak at a normal rate and do not exaggerate mouth movements. Use pauses to give the listener time to process the speech.
- Visual communication: Maintain eye contact and face the listener directly. Your facial expressions and body language add essential information to the conversation. This allows the listener to gauge your emotions and get a feel for the mood of the conversation. Keep your hands away from your face: If you are eating, chewing, coughing, etc. while talking it is more difficult to understand your speech. These actions can also interfere with the ability for the listener to use visual cues.
- Find a different way to say the same thing: If the listener has difficulty understanding your comment, find a different way to phrase it. Using different words rather than repeating the original words over and over is a more effective way to communicate. Having the listener repeat back specific information to you confirms they’ve heard what you said.
- Minimize background noise: Take control of the environment, do not let it control you! Try to reduce background noises by turning off the radio and television or moving to a quiet corner away from competing noise.