Tips for Communicating if You Have Hearing Loss

Communicating with hearing loss can be challenging. Hearing loss reduces the capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound, which can make it tough to have conversations. Have you felt excluded during a conversation or had trouble keeping up with what your loved ones are saying? You may even pretend to hear to avoid seeming confused. These are common symptoms of hearing loss that you may experience during conversations. Fortunately, there are useful strategies you can practice to support effective communication. The following tips for communicating if you have hearing loss can help you navigate conversations with greater ease. 

  • Maximize the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are essential and provide comprehensive support for people with hearing loss. It is important to wear your hearing aids during waking hours and to have a maintenance routine that helps keep your device in the best shape. Additionally, it is useful to know about the range of features and accessories that your hearing aid offers. There are a number of features – digital noise reduction, tinnitus management, wireless connectivity, etc. – that delivers enhanced sound quality in everyday settings. Be sure to discuss these features with your hearing healthcare provider and other ways you can maximize your hearing aids. 
  • Reduce background noise. We are exposed to various sounds and noise levels throughout the day. While background noise is not typically harmful to hearing, it can make hearing more difficult, especially for people with hearing loss. Reducing background noise as much as possible is a useful way to support your hearing needs. There are various ways you can do this, including powering off any noisy appliances you are not using, lowering the volume on music or the TV, avoiding places with lots of background noise (especially during peak hours), and driving with the windows rolled up to reduce environmental noise. These strategies cut down on the amount of background noise you are exposed to, making it easier to hear and have conversations. 
  • Avoid multitasking. Though multitasking is common during conversations, it can be distracting and create more challenges for hearing. Engaging in activities like texting, emailing, cleaning, cooking. while having a conversation not only creates more noise to have to filter through but also prevents people from being fully present. Being completely engaged and present during a conversation allows people to practice thoughtful communication. Multitasking can also hinder access to body language – movements, facial expressions, hand gestures etc. This type of nonverbal communication is important and particularly useful for people with hearing loss. So avoid multitasking and ask others to do the same during conversations. 
  • Sit strategically. Another useful strategy is to be intentional about where you sit in any given space. For example, if you are in a cafe or restaurant, you want to avoid sitting next to sources of noise. This includes sitting next to the door, kitchen, near a speaker etc. If you are at a dinner table, be sure to sit central so that you are able to see everyone. Visibility increases access to nonverbal communication and lip reading which are useful ways people follow a conversation.
  • Share communication strategies. You likely know what works best for your hearing and ways others can support your hearing needs. It is important to share communication strategies with others (friends, family, coworkers) which invites them to participate in making conversations more accessible. A few strategies that may be useful include:
    • Grab your attention before starting a conversation. 
    • Rephrase rather than repeat if you haven’t heard something. 
    • Speak naturally and avoid shouting. 
    • Emphasize body language, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues. 
    • Avoid multitasking during a conversation. 
    • Be visible and avoid starting a conversation in a different room.

These tips are among many strategies that can support communicating if you have hearing loss. Sharing these tips is a great way to ensure that everyone is involved in having a smooth conversation. 

  • Advocate for your hearing needs. Lastly, it is important to advocate for yourself and your hearing needs. If you don’t hear what was said or need the other person to make an adjustment, be sure to share this! Sharing and advocating for your hearing needs allows others to support these needs. 

Contact us to learn more about prioritizing your hearing health and to get your questions answered. Contact American Hearing + Audiology for an appointment at one of our top-rated hearing centers.