Communication is a Two-Way Street

It’s something many of us take for granted: the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. You speak. You listen for a response. You respond in kind. Simple, right?

For those with hearing loss, the simple can quickly become very convoluted. And it’s not just the hearing impaired who feel the pain. Their families, friends, and co-workers stumble and get frustrated, too.

With or without hearing aids, there are some very effective things you, as a person with hearing loss can do. And there are equally effective things your family and associates can learn to do as well.

The Hearing Loss Association of America has published a great tip sheet for both side affected. Here’s what they suggest: 

Tips for Hearing Person to Communicate with Person who has a Hearing Loss

Set Your Stage

  • Face person directly.
  • Spotlight your face (no backlighting).
  • Avoid noisy backgrounds.
  • Get attention first.
  • Ask how you can facilitate communication.
  • When audio and acoustics are poor, emphasize the visual.

Get the Point Across

  • Don't shout.
  • Speak clearly, at moderate pace, not over-emphasizing words.
  • Don't hide your mouth, chew food, gum, or smoke while talking.
  • Re-phrase if you are not understood.
  • Use facial expressions, gestures.
  • Give clues when changing subjects or say “new subject.”

Establish Empathy with Your Audience

  • Be patient if response seems slow.
  • Talk to a hard of hearing person, not about him or her to another person.
  • Show respect to help build confidence and have a constructive conversation.
  • Maintain a sense of humor, stay positive and relaxed.

Tips for the Person with Hearing Loss to Communicate with Hearing People

Set Your Stage

  • Tell others how best to talk to you.
  • Pick your best spot (light, quiet area, close to speaker).
  • Anticipate difficult situations, plan how to minimize them.

Do Your Part

  • Pay attention.
  • Concentrate on speaker.
  • Look for visual clues.
  • Ask for written cues if needed.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let conversation flow to fill in the blanks and gain more meaning.
  • Maintain a sense of humor, stay positive and relaxed.

Establish Empathy with Audience

  • Let the speaker know how well he or she is conveying the information.
  • Don’t bluff. Admit it when you don’t understand.
  • If too tired to concentrate, ask for discussion later.
  • Thank the speaker for trying

To read more tips and advice for better communication, read the Association’s full article.

What strategies have you developed for better communication?

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