Communicating Well With People Who Have Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is not a reality most of us know how to deal with comfortably. We may find ourselves struggling to understand and communicate effectively with our loved ones who have hearing loss. You can find new ways to communicate with those who have hearing loss so that you both can get the most out of your conversation.
People with hearing loss often deny that they have a hearing problem in the first place, which can be quite frustrating. They may try guessing what you said, or simply smiling and nodding vaguely. Either way, these responses get both of you nowhere since you would both be trying to guess what the other person is trying to say. Over time, people with hearing loss may become reclusive and isolated as they begin to feel left out during normal daily conversations.
It is important to remember that a person with hearing loss is not ignoring you or being difficult on purpose. Hearing loss can be a frustrating and isolating experience, and only the person affected by it truly knows how difficult it can be. Be patient when speaking to someone with hearing loss and try and see things more empathetically.
Hearing loss can often be the elephant in the room, where both of you know it is there but none of you is willing to acknowledge it. Sometimes, people with hearing loss are secretly searching for someone to share their hearing problems with but remain silent out of fear of being stigmatized. You can simply bring the topic to the table by mentioning your observations casually.
Do not force a person to admit that they have hearing loss, and the best way to talk about their hearing loss is to not talk about it! Let them approach the topic in a way they feel comfortable, and let them know that you are listening and are there for them.
If you have hearing loss, being honest and open about it can go a long way in simplifying the conversation. You can simply let the speaker know casually that you are having difficulty hearing them properly because of your hearing loss and ask if there is any way they can rephrase what they just said. You can also ask them to look directly at you so that you can read their lips. Be clear and honest about your requirements and you will find that your loved ones are more than willing to accommodate.
While talking to someone with hearing loss, remember not to shout because raising the volume will probably not make your words any clearer. People with hearing loss often have muffled hearing and to them it may seem as though everyone around them is mumbling. This is why it is important to use fewer, more concise words and enunciate them clearly while speaking to someone with hearing loss.
Always remain calm and do not get excited when a person with hearing loss asks you to repeat what you just said. Remember that they are only trying to understand you better and are doing the best they can given their limited hearing. It is much harder on them than it is on you, since their brain is working harder to make sense of the limited auditory information they get. This can leave them feeling tired and irritable, so do not react offensively if a person with hearing loss snaps at you.
After your loved one admits to their hearing loss, be there as a support to help them seek the treatment they need. You can accompany them to the audiologist to have their hearing tested and encourage them to get hearing aids.