Episode 16: How To Communicate More Effectively If You Have A Hearing Loss

If you have hearing loss there are always situations where you have difficulty making out what someone is saying. If you want to avoid frustration for both of you, it pays to develop some good communication strategies. Not many people know instinctively how to communicate with someone with a hearing loss; they think they have to shout!

First, if it is an important or lengthy conversation, let the speaker know you have a hearing loss. Don’t think of this as embarrassing; think of it as being helpful…helping you both out as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to own the fact that you have difficulty hearing.

Be sure to look at the speakers face. Some people say they don’t like doing this, because the other person will think they’re staring. But its quite the opposite. If you are watching the person speaking, it shows that you are paying attention. When you look at the person speaking, your brain is using language cues to “fill in the gaps”… Not just lip-reading, but other information from the structure of language – such as word order, the sounds which can go together in English, the meaning or context, and the intonation of the voice. Your brain has an innate knowledge of the rules of language, like a computer, and uses these without you even realising it.

Another tip …when you have to ask someone to repeat something, let them know what you HAVE heard, so that they can repeat the part you missed. For example, if someone says to you “We thought we’d go on a world trip next year”, and all you heard was, “ We thought we’d go” and “next year”, then say instead, “Where are you going next year?”

These are powerful tools you can use to reduce the frustration of faulty communication, and once you practice them, they will become a habit, and an effective way to help with your communication.