Did you know that one in six Australians have some type of hearing loss? And that doesn’t even include those of us whose hearing is just starting to deteriorate (so that we have more trouble than usual in noisy places)
But there are other things we can do to improve our communication with others who may be hard of hearing… and will save you and your loved ones a lot of pain and frustration. The most important change you could make to help effective communication with someone who is hard of hearing, is to make sure you look straight at them and make eye contact, so that they can see your face. If you get into the habit of doing this, it will help.
Once you have made eye contact, here’s some things you can do:
First of all, speak naturally, and don’t shout. If you raise your voice, thinking it will help them hear, it will distort the sound. And your body language will change with the effort of shouting, so that you look angry. Also, don’t rush your speech, just speak naturally and clearly.
If they still have problems, and the listener asks you to repeat, don’t say the same thing twice.Try saying it a different way. For example, if you said “ Let’s go to the 6 o’clock showing of the movie”, and the listener asks you to repeat, say instead: “ The movie is on at 6 o’clock, shall we go to it?” It’s harder to do than you think, but if you practise, always repeating something in a different way, it will soon become a habit.
Another tip… be aware of background noise. If you try to have a conversation from the other end of a table in a noisy restaurant, it will be an exercise in frustration. Gauge your moment and your environment. Wait until the noise stops, or move to a quieter place, or move closer to the listener and make sure they can see your face.
The other important thing to remember is never to try and speak from another room – even someone without hearing loss will struggle to hear you in this situation, so try to restrain that impulse to yell out, and go into the room where your listener is.
If you can make these small changes a habit, people will think you’re a wonderful communicator!