Tips for Communicating if You Have Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can limit your experience of enjoyment in the sounding world. Whether struggling to hear the birds on a walk in the woods or going to a concert where you strain to hear the dynamics of soft melody, hearing loss can make it difficult to enjoy many of your favorite activities. However, the most commonly reported problem associated with hearing loss is the challenge it poses to communication. Missing sounds can transform the continuous flow of language into a jumble of syllables and indecipherable sounds. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make communication easier, even if you have hearing loss. These tips will help you make sense of what others have to say, but getting treatment is the only durable solution to hearing loss going forward. 

Multisensory Communication

Although hearing is the primary sense employed in verbal communication, we also use visual cues to understand others. Not only do we use body language and facial expressions to add context to what others have to say, but we might also be reading lips and mouth movements even without realizing it. For these reasons, it is important to communicate while others are in our line of sight. Calling out from another room in the house is the most difficult context for communication, so don’t hesitate to ask others to join you in the same room. If you find yourself in a conversation with someone wearing a mask, you might want to ask if you can communicate outdoors where masks can be removed. 

Get It In Writing

When you are communicating about important details, you might want to ask others to follow up with written information. It is not uncommon to ask someone to send these details in an email or text message, and those with hearing loss can particularly benefit from dual modes of communication. If you realize that you aren’t picking up all the necessary information, simply express that you are interested in what others have to say, but that you will need to see all the important information written down to be sure of the details.  

As for Accommodations

If you are caught in a conversation that isn’t making sense to you, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You probably know best what can help you communicate, and you can directly convey these desires to others. For some people, this might mean speaking closer to one ear than the other. You might need people to raise the volume of their speech or to enunciate more clearly. If you notice that certain voices are easier to hear than others, you can ask those who are difficult to hear to stand closer to you. You might be surprised how willing others are to assist you when you simply ask. 

Find an “Interpreter”

In group conversations, it can be helpful to enlist a close loved one to assist in the conversation. By relaying questions at a closer distance, this loved one can form the bridge between yourself and others, particularly those who you don’t know as well. Make sure to find someone who will not jump in and speak on your behalf. Though they might not realize it, they can effectively cut you out of the conversation in this way. You will only need assistance coming from others to you, but you remain in charge of your speech and communication to others.

Seek Treatment

These tips can take you in the direction of better communication, but they may not remain effective for long. Many people find that their hearing ability declines over time, and the tricks that worked in the past might not remain helpful for long. Undoubtedly you will find yourself in a situation where these tips are insufficient to make communication easy for you. 

For these reasons and many others, getting treatment for hearing loss is the only lasting solution to your communication problems. When you have hearing aids in place, you will not need to rely on these other strategies to be able to understand others, and you will be able to reap the benefits in terms of your enjoyment of the richly sounding world, as well.