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Tips for Having Better Conversations with Others

You have the right to hear and understand what is being said when people speak with you.  If a person talks openly with friends and family about hearing loss, one will eventually feel relief because one will use less physical energy hiding the hearing loss.  In fact, you may even hear better just because you are more relaxed!

This section of the course contains practical suggestions and tips for managing hearing loss.  These suggestions and tips should be used by the person with the hearing loss as well as family and friends.

Tips for Someone with Hearing Loss

  • Get help.  Visit an ENT or audiologist for a hearing exam.
  • Wear hearing aids and use assistive listening devices that can help you communicate.
  • Admit to your hearing loss so people don't think you are ignoring them.  
  • Tell family and friends that you wear hearing aids.  Let children hold the aids in their hands.  Explain how the aids work.
  • Avoid loud or noisy situations with a lot of background noise.
  • Sit in a place in the room that has good lighting.
  • Bring a buddy.  If you know you will be meeting new people at a social event, it can be a good idea to bring a friend with you so you can ask for help if needed.  You could agree that you will use a special sign to indicate that you are having trouble.
  • Ask people to catch your attention, for example, by tapping on your shoulder before they speak to you.
  • Sit close to the person with whom you are speaking.  
  • Verify the information throughout the conversation to avoid miscommunication.  For example, "Did you say we are going to Mary's on the 15th or 16th?  Are you bringing dessert or am I?"
  • Let the person know exactly what you did or did not hear.
  • Have a pen and paper ready.  Ask the person to "write it down" if you can't hear the person well.

Tips for Family and Friends

  • Speak louder, but don't shout.  Shouting distorts speech and actually makes it more difficult to understand.
  • Speak slowly, giving the person more time to understand you, but don't make your speech unnatural.
  • Provide more information, perhaps by repeating the same thing in different ways.  For example, if you said, "Joe is coming over at three o'clock," and the message was not understood, you could provide more information and rephrase:  "Your son Joe is coming for a visit at three o'clock." 
  • Make sure the person is paying attention to you and knows that you are speaking.  Attract attention visually or by touching the person.
  • Avoid noisy environments.  Turn down the TV or go into a quiet room.
  • If the person depends on visual input such as lip reading, make sure your mouth is not hidden.  If you smoke, remove the cigarette from your mouth, and don't chew gum.
  • Don't call out or try to have a conversation from another room.  Make sure you are face to face before you begin.
  • Give the person with hearing loss cues about the topic of conversation.  For example, if you want to discuss an event, introduce it first:  "I would like to tell you about my trip to Chicago..."

Click here for a PDF file about Communication Tips

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