Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the beautiful fall weather!
Today, I would like to touch on the topic of using a few different strategies to improve our communication. Falling into bad communication habits can happen to all of us at times. We may try to speak to our family members from a different room or even floor of the house, or we may try to ask someone a question when they aren’t paying attention. I see this especially often between spouses, and it can create tension and frustration in our relationships. Poor communication strategies can make it difficult for a person with normal hearing to understand and significantly harder for a person with hearing loss to hear and understand. So, what are these tips and tricks for improving communication?
- Be mindful of background noise.
- When you can, eliminate as much background noise as possible. Turn off the TV or radio when you are having a conversation. Move to a quieter location if you are unable to turn down or control the noise level. Try to sit in the corner of a loud room, not in the middle. In loud environments, be understanding if your conversation partner is having a hard time hearing you, especially if they have hearing loss.
- Reduce distance and use facial cues.
- Move yourself closer to your conversation partner before speaking. Face the person you are speaking with. Do not try to speak to someone from a distance, especially if you are in a different room. By being in close proximity, you are providing your listening partner with a better and clearer sound signal and allowing them to see your face. Our brains automatically register visual cues from our mouth movements and use them to fill in the gaps of what our ears miss! Pretty cool! Sound also struggles to travel over distances, so the listener will only receive a soft and distorted message if you are far away from them.
- Get your listener’s attention before speaking.
- We’ve all done it. We’ve been so absorbed in a task that we don’t even realize someone is speaking to us. The brain needs to be actively engaged and listening to register and understand what it is hearing. We don’t hear with our ears; we hear with our brains. So do your spouse or family member a favor and get their attention before you start speaking to them.
- Speak slower and more distinctly, not just louder.
- This one is especially important for speaking to someone with hearing loss. When we lose our hearing, we also experience a loss of clarity due to distortion in our remaining hearing. By speaking slower and being sure to pronounce our words clearly and distinctly, we can reduce the listening effort needed for our conversation partner to hear and understand us.
If you are practicing effective communication strategies and still experiencing difficulty hearing, I recommend contacting your hearing healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and further recommendations.
Madilyn Guith, AuD