Whether you are an active hearing aid user or struggling with understanding conversations, good communication strategies can help improve your daily interactions. Here are some simple ways you can improve communication with friends and family, as good communication is key!
When listening to an active speaker, we naturally rely on facial cues and gestures to help aid in understanding the message. Those gestures can help us identify if someone is happy, sad, upset, etc.
If someone misses part of the message, they may rely on your facial features to help put those pieces of the puzzle together. If the speaker is a familiar voice, you may not depend on those facial cues as much as you would an unfamiliar voice.
Face the individual your speaking to:
- Don’t have your back towards the speaker.
- Don’t shout from across the house and expect your spouse to hear you.
- Distance matters- We’ll say 6 feet is okay.
- Avoid speaking to someone with food in your mouth.
- Avoid covering your face or mouth (Why COVID-19, WHY!?)
Lighting can impact your view and potentially lead to missing out on those important facial cues. If the sun is in your eyes or the room is too dark, those facial features can disappear.
Make sure your lighting is comfortable for both the speaker and the listener. Don’t have your friend sitting by a sunny window squinting their eyes…You’re bound to have some kind of communication break-down.
Volume Control (aka your speaking voice):
Shouting never helped anyone and can actually distort the clarity of the message. If you’re talking to someone with hearing aids, their aids are programmed to amplify the message, so speak in a natural tone.
Avoid talking too fast, as your words may jumble together. This could distort your listener from hearing the proper message. Please don’t talk too slow or like a robot-Yikes! Keep it natural and relaxed.
As an audiologist, we focus on something called “Clear Speech.” It entails speaking at a naturally slower pace with natural loudness added to enunciate speech by placing intonation and stress on certain words and pausing between phrases and sentences- (I promise it’s not difficult).
There are plenty of exercises for practicing clear speech online. Practice makes perfect and let’s face it, we all have time!
The most difficult listening environment for someone with hearing loss is background noise. This may include noisy restaurants, large groups, or other high noise associated environments. Let’s not forget the TV running in the background or the dishwasher going through a cycle. These are things that create background noise and can lead to difficulty hearing when having a conversation in the comfort of your home.
If possible, try to eliminate the background noise. Turn the TV off, run the dishwasher when you’re going to bed. If you cannot control the background noise (i.e. in a restaurant), ask to be seated in a booth in the corner away from the kitchen. This can help block some of that noise out and help you hear the conversation better.
Since the design of all restaurants are different, you may have to play around to find an ideal location. Ask your hostess where the best low noise location might be.
Additional Things to Consider:
If your friend or family member doesn’t hear you, get their attention first. This ensures that they are engaged in the conversation.
If the listener doesn’t hear the message, try to rephrase it instead of repeating the same sentence over again.
If you are the listener of the conversation, you can also improve upon how you respond when you don’t hear someone. I promise there are more ways to say you didn’t hear someone other than “What and Huh?”
Example: Speaker: “I’m taking dad to the doctor at 4.” Maybe all you heard was “Taking dad…doctor at….” You can restructure your sentence to say “What time are you taking dad to the doctor?
These are the most common communication strategies that can help improve your daily interactions. Thank you for reading!
Blog written by Alyse Stempel, Au.D., CCC-A. Dr. Stempel is an Audiologist at Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center.