Hearing loss can make conversations challenging. Often we rely on our conversation person to face us when they speak and provide us context before changing topics.
But communication is a two-way street. There are also many things we can do to enhance our ability to have successful and productive conversations with others. By following some simple rules of thumb, we can put ourselves in a better position to hear and communicate as best is possible.
Here are my tips. Please share yours in the comments.
1. Inform Others About Your Hearing Loss
Don’t be shy about disclosing your hearing loss. People cannot help you if they do not know you have difficulty understanding. I make a habit of announcing my hearing loss at the start of any group meetings or retreats. It is easy to do as part of the introductions. This way I get the information out and avoid any awkwardness later when I ask someone to repeat themselves or grab a seat in the front row so I can hear the speaker better.
2. Be Specific About Your Needs
Let others know what they can do to help you hear better. The more specific you are in your request, such as: I need you to sit on my left side or please face me when you speak to me — the more likely you are to get good results. Be prepared to remind people what they can do to help.
3. Put Others At Ease
If you appear comfortable with your hearing loss, others will be as well. Let people know that they can ask you about it. I often joke with people saying, “If you say something to me and I don’t answer, please don’t think I am rude, it is probably because I didn’t hear, or understand you.” Humor often makes people more forgiving and more willing to try again to engage you in conversation.
4. Stay Informed
Since context is so important in following conversations, try to stay abreast of current news and social happenings. It is easier to understand a new name (of a country or a celebrity) if you have seen it written about recently. This can be especially important if you are traveling to a different state or country.
5. Maintain Good Energy
Hearing may require extraordinary concentration for those with hearing loss so it is important to approach communication situations well rested and alert. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and be sure to get enough sleep. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks from communication if you are getting tired.
6. Interrupt for Clarification In Moderation
If you miss a word or two of a story, listen a little bit longer before jumping in with “What?” You may be able to piece together what was said after another sentence or two. This does not apply at the doctor, or other important situation where full knowledge is imperative, but in social situations, not following every detail is probably OK some of the time. Also, when you ask for clarification, say what you think you heard to minimize what the speaker needs to repeat.
7. Use Non-Verbal Clues To Guide Your Communication Partner
Cupping your hand behind your ear is a good way to ask the speaker to raise his voice without interrupting the flow of the conversation. Leaning closer to the speaker can also indicate that you are having trouble hearing them.
8. Go With The Flow
Manage your expectations. In certain situations, understanding every word may not be not possible, but try to be grateful for what you can hear. Keep your sense of humor ready for the misunderstandings. Some of them can be quite funny if you let them.
If you have any suggestion, please leave them under comments.