Communication Tips

Communication is a two-way street, and both the listener with the hearing loss, and his or her communication partner, can play a role in reducing the problems that may arise during a conversation. Below are some communication strategies for both the listener and the communication partner that may significantly reduce conversational difficulties.

Listener: Acknowledge your hearing loss so that people will be more likely to look directly at you when talking, and speak clearly when addressing you.

Communication Partner: If someone you are conversing with wears hearing aids and/or tells you that she has a hearing loss, do not shout or exaggerate your mouth movements. Just speak clearly, a little bit slower and a little bit louder. Pausing between phrases will help the listener have time to process what you are saying.

Listener: Pay extra attention to the talker and try to hone your listening skills. Watch the talker’s mouth instead of looking down. Try to concentrate on the topic of conversation, even if you are missing a few words or phrases.

Communication Partner: Try to appreciate that folks who have to pay extra attention during conversations will often tire more easily than other listeners, and may want to go home earlier than you do from parties, family dinners, and other group events.

Listener: Anticipate difficult listening situations and plan ahead. Be as prepared as you can to minimize listening difficulties.

Communication Partner: When accompanying a friend or family member to an event that is likely to be a difficult listening situation, think of ways ahead of time to minimize communication problems. The efforts you take to plan for a “noise-free” event will probably actually benefit ALL of your guests.

Listener: Avoid saying “Huh?” or “What did you say?” when you have heard at least part of what the speaker was saying. This way, the talker does not have to repeat everything that was said.

Communication Partner: When the listener has missed something you said, try repeating what you said one time, using clear (but not exaggerated) speech. If the person still does not understand, try rewording.

Listener: Practice analyzing WHY you are having difficulties with a particular talker, then make specific requests, politely of course.

Communication partner: The best way to speak clearly for people with hearing loss is to face them, speak a little bit more slowly, a little bit more loudly, and with natural voice intonation, not a monotone. Try not to cover your mouth when you are talking, because that prevents your partner from taking advantage of lip cues.

Listener: If you have the slightest doubt that you understood a message correctly, confirm the details with the talker. It could save you some embarrassment or complications later.

Communication partner: When giving directions, such as where and when to meet for a meeting, ask your partner who has a hearing loss if he/she is clear on the directions by saying something like, “Did that make sense?”

Listener: Use positive words when you need help from your communication partner.

Communication partner: When the listener with a hearing loss asks you to say something a little bit louder, take it as a compliment! It means he/she really wants to understand what you are talking about.

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Pamala A. Pannell is the Director of Audiology at Pro-Audiology of Nashville. She received a Masters of Audiology from the University of Mississippi in Oxford. She is committed to providing quality personalized hearing health care services for the identification, prevention and nonmedical rehabilitation of hearing loss using the most advanced marketed technology. She has earned the reputation for excellent patient care and takes pride in the quality of services offered to patients with hearing and balance problems.