Communication strategies can help you and your family manage conversations and listening environments more successfully, allowing you to take charge of communication so that you can hear better. The following are some strategies that are recommended for family and friends in dealing with hearing loss.

 

The next time you are talking with a family member, coworker, or friend with hearing loss, try these tips to help you both get more out of the conversation:

 

Close the Gap: In environments with significant background noise, for example a family get together, it often helps to narrow the distance between you and the person with hearing loss. Conversations from distances with a lot of background noise, or from room to room can be difficult for anyone, and virtually impossible for those with hearing loss.

 

Get the Listener’s Attention: Before you begin talking, say the person's name and face him/her. You may wish to gently touch the listener's hand, arm or shoulder. Make sure you have eye contact before you begin talking. This will allow the listener to know you're talking and hear the whole conversation, from the beginning.

 

Maintain Eye Contact: Visual communication, expressions and body language are non-verbal cues that are vital in communication. These visual cues help provide context and help with comprehension especially in difficult listening situations.

 

Limit Any Distractions: Any extraneous noise such as loud music and television make it difficult for someone with hearing loss to distinguish your voice. Try to reduce the overall noise or move away from noisy environments. While dining in a restaurant, ask for a table away from noisy areas or large parties. Active choices can help you take control of your environment.

 

Speak Naturally: Speak distinctly, clearly, at a normal rate, with your normal voice while keeping your hands away from your face. Try not to mumble, which is very hard to understand even for those with normal hearing. There is no need to shout (which actually distorts the words). Use pauses rather than slow speech to allow the listener time to process what you've said. This will aid the listener in understanding what you're saying, process your speech and make use of visual cues.

 

Say It Differently, Instead of Repeating: If the listener is having trouble understanding something you've said, try to rephrase it.

 

Know Your Audience: Communication - listening and understanding, requires focus and energy for everyone involved. When an individual has hearing loss, he or she has to work even harder to follow along in a conversation, especially when in a group or a noisy environment. Be aware of those who are having trouble so that you can make the necessary adjustments. It will make for a more enjoyable time for everyone!

 

Most Importantly, Be Patient! Hearing loss can be very frustrating for everyone involved. For those trying to learn to use a hearing aid it involves even more energy and concentration. Be patient and allow the person with hearing loss some down time from conversation to make necessary adjustments.

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Communication Strategies

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