Communication Tips For Individuals with Hearing Loss
Communicating with people with hearing loss is often difficult and frustrating for BOTH sides of the conversation.
Don’t guess what people are saying
For reasons of pride, many people with hearing loss do their best to hide or deny their hearing difficulties. This is a mistake. It is much better to be recognized as someone with hearing difficulties than a person with a fading mental capacity.
Most people are happy to help someone with a hearing loss, but less inclined to help someone they perceive as not paying attention.
Prevent difficult situations before they happen
If you think ahead, you can prevent problems. For example, in the fast food world, you might plan your order so that all the questions are answered. “I’ll have a cheeseburger, medium fries and a small coffee with cream and sugar … to go.” Notice how this proactively resolves any additional questions. There is no need for them to ask “Do you want fries or a drink?” If you are following the “anticipate” rule, you will hear them when they ask anyway.
There are better ways to ask for help
On one hand, you could say: “Can you speak up… you are not speaking clearly enough.”
But you are likely to get a much better response if you say: “Sorry, I have a little trouble hearing. Could you speak up a little, because what you say is important to me.”
Hearing loss can be a problem, but it’s your job more than anyone else to take steps to overcome its’ limitations. A positive attitude shown to people you communicate with will greatly improve their willingness to meet you half way.
Be specific with the help you ask for
Be specific when telling someone how they can help you better understand. Here are some examples:
- Tell them you can miss things if you don’t know who is talking. Ask them to get your attention before they begin to talk.
- Tell them that you can’t hear if more than one person is talking at the same time. Ask that only one person talk at a time.
- Tell them that quick topic changes often cause you to lose track of the conversation … ask that they help you understand the topic.
- Tell them that you read lips, so it’s important for you to be able to see their face.
- Say, “I don’t hear well in noisy situations, Let’s move over to this quiet corner.”
- If you didn’t hear something, don’t just say “What?” or “Huh.” Tell them what you DID hear and ask them to repeat the part you missed … For example say: “I heard you are going on a trip, but I missed when you are leaving.”