Effective communication begins with you. Unfortunately, all of us develop poor listening habits while we have good hearing. As our hearing deteriorates, those habits turn into frustration. The problem with that is most people wait, on average, 7 years before seeking help for hearing loss. This means you develop a whole new set of listening habits. But, now you have hearing devices and you have to relearn how to listen effectively. Just remember – you can overcome your situation by practicing proper listening techniques and having a little patience.

If you are concerned about how hearing loss is affecting your communication with others, incorporate these helpful suggestions into your regular routine:

  1. Seek professional treatment from a hearing care provider
    • Today’s hearing aid technologies are highly effective for all types of hearing loss, and most patients experience a significant improvement in their communication skills simply by wearing hearing devices.
  2. Set aside time to talk face-to-face in a quiet setting each day
    • One-on-one time is important to maintaining any relationship. For those with hearing loss, getting this much-needed personal attention from loved ones is difficult. While people with normal hearing are able to bond over activities or in larger groups of people, those who struggle to hear often miss out on these opportunities to participate in communication.
  3. Don’t try to communicate with someone far away or in another room
    • Most family members often try to have conversation while standing in one room and talking to another member in another room. While this is an easy and fast way to communicate, it can result in frustration and confusion for people with a hearing impairment. Instead, wait until you are both in the same room and can communicate face-to-face. Speech sounds do not travel very well through open spaces and around obstacles. Also, try to eliminate or reduce distracting sounds that might interfere with the communication process. Remember, visual cues can be just as important to the person with the hearing impairment as the verbal cues.
  4. Come up with some ideas for activities that don’t require much talking.
    • We communicate with each other in many ways, and not all of them are auditory. Selecting fun activities to do with your loved ones can help improve your relationship and boost communication, even if you don’t do much talking. Some fun ideas include: golf, taking a walk, bicycling, going to a movie or a live performance, board games, visiting a museum, or taking dancing lessons or an art class.
  5. Avoid loud restaurants, activities and attractions.
    • Loud environments and locations with excessive background noise pose a big challenge for those with a hearing impairment. In most cases, these settings cause someone with hearing loss to detach from the conversation. When joining in an activity or going out to eat, make it a priority to select somewhere with minimal sound interference so you can communicate effectively and have an enjoyable time. A good idea would be to not go out to a popular restaurant during peak times.
  6. Kindly encourage others to speak slowly and clearly.
    • Whether you or a loved one suffers from hearing loss, you can boost comprehension and improve communication by encouraging your loved ones to speak more clearly, more distinctly and directly to you. Some people may need occasional reminders, but taking the time to encourage good communication skills shows that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying.
  7. Stay positive by using humor and remaining relaxed in stressful situations.
    • Hearing loss doesn’t affect just the person with the impairment. It’s vital to remain patient; kind and forgiving whether you are personally dealing with a hearing problem or caring for someone who is. If you can learn to diffuse frustrating or stressful situations with humor and compassion, you will notice a drastic difference in your relationships, mental health and communication abilities.