Improving Communication with Your Family

Improving Communication with Your Family

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-AUncategorized

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A

Communicating with hearing loss can be challenging. Even while using hearing aids, communicating effectively in all environments is not always easy. This not only impacts the person with impaired hearing but can also frustrate the people trying to communicate with them. Your family may experience this even more as you try to interact with them daily. But there are useful ways you can engage with your family that best support your hearing needs. By practicing helpful communication strategies, you can navigate conversations with greater ease! 

Effective Communication Strategies 

You can improve communication by implementing specific tips and tools including the following: 

1. Communicate Hearing Needs

It is important to be upfront and communicative about your hearing loss and hearing needs. People may not automatically know how to best communicate with you until you tell them. Just like it is a learning process for you, it is also a learning process for your family. You also know what works best for your hearing so it is important to share that information. Also, if the way(s) others are communicating with you is not working, it is also equally important to let them know. The established trust you have with your family will go a long way! 

2. Minimize Background Noise 

When having conversations, try to reduce or eliminate as much background noise as you can. This could mean powering off the TV (or lowering the volume), tuning down any music or fans in the background. Also, avoid trying to have conversations while using household appliances (blenders, vacuum cleaner, handheld drill etc.). Minimizing background noise allows you (and your brain) to focus on the sounds from the conversation without being distracted (or having to also process) with other sounds. 

3. Make Eye Contact 

Facing the person you are speaking to is really useful. This allows you to also read nonverbal cues (body language, facial expressions) as well as read mouths which helps provide a clearer context. You should avoid multitasking so that you are present and able to concentrate on the conversation. 

4. Ask for Clarification

Do not hesitate to ask for help when something is unclear or confusing. It is absolutely normal to ask the speaker to make some changes so that you are better able to understand and participate in the conversation. Asking the speaker to make specific adjustments is also helpful for them. You can ask them to: 

  • Face you while speaking
  • Repeat something more slowly 
  • Rephrase by using different words 
  • Move to a quieter area 
  • Refrain from doing other things during the conversation 

5. Be Patient 

Remember that this is all a process! It takes time to become comfortable communicating with hearing aids. You also have to give yourself space to explore the strategies that work best for your hearing in different types of environments. It is also a learning process for others who are on this journey with you. So be sure to be patient and kind to yourself as you’re learning new ways to communicate! Take breaks when you need to, be aware of your energy, and don’t be tough on yourself. 

Additional Tips

In addition to these strategies, there are useful tips to keep in mind: 

  • Avoid places with lots of background noise 
  • Adjust lighting so that you can see people and their body language 
  • In group conversations, place yourself where you can see everyone’s face
  • Check-in during the conversation to make sure you are understanding 
  • Share specific adjustments others can make when necessary 
  • Remember that others want you to understand and participate fully

Communicating your hearing needs invites others to engage with you in more useful ways. It is important to remember that communication is a two-way exchange meaning that others share the responsibility of communicating effectively. It is not entirely up to you so do not feel extra stressed or anxious about carrying the weight of the entire conversation. 

Communicating effectively with or without hearing loss requires effort and participation from everyone involved. So again, be patient and understanding with yourself and with others. This is a process that you will become more and more practiced and comfortable in! 

If you have been struggling with hearing loss, contact us today! We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help.