Conversations require close collaboration between involved parties; it takes a lot of focus, energy and patience to work together to negotiate meaning. Hearing loss makes this even more difficult. Below, we’ve outlined some communication tips to improve your conversation ability whether you or your conversation partner has a hearing impairment.
Note that these tips are most helpful for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. People with severe hearing loss to profound deafness likely require additional accommodations.
Pick a Suitable Environment
The environment you’re in can make a big difference when it comes to communicating clearly.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting. Many people with hearing loss rely on lip reading, facial expressions, body language, gestures and other visual cues to infer meaning.
- Go somewhere quiet. Settings with excessive background noise are notoriously difficult for people with hearing loss. Places with carpets, rugs, drapes, and upholstered furniture absorb sound better than those with wood, metal or concrete accents.
- Sit strategically. If you’re having company over (following state social distancing guidelines, of course), consider the seating arrangement. Sitting at a round table allows the person with hearing loss to have visual access to everyone’s faces.
Helpful Communication Etiquette
Now that you know where to have an effective conversation, we’ll cover how.
- Don’t cover your mouth while talking, talk through a yawn or talk while chewing.
- Don’t speak from another room or while your back is turned.
- Use other cues like saying your conversation partner’s name or tapping them on the shoulder. Do not snap, clap or do anything else that is rude to get their attention.
- Avoid speaking over others in a group setting.
- Position yourself closely enough to hear each other well but not so close the hearing impaired person can’t easily switch between eye contact and lip reading.
- If you’re asked to repeat yourself, don’t talk unnaturally loud or slow. Try to speak clearly and rephrase if necessary.
For more information about communication tips or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.