Communication strategies are available to aid those with hearing loss. Communication is an important way for thoughts, ideas, and feelings to be expressed to one another. For all people, regardless of hearing sensitivity, a breakdown in communication is common. It is easy to miss bits of information that can prove to be crucial to the conversation. This is to an even greater extent for those suffering from hearing impairment. Continual breakdowns can cause the person to feel defeated, anxious, frustrated, angry, and embarrassed.
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies available to help minimize the communication breakdown or repair the breakdown. Some strategies can be used in advance, prior to any breakdown in communication. Thinking ahead about a known listening situation may help to determine paths to minimize any issues.
Use what you’ve got. Let the person you are speaking with know what you are hearing, so they do not feel as though you are not listening. Repeat parts of the conversation followed by a question (e.g., “You said you were going where after you did your laundry?”). This allows the partner to feel included, and reinforces what you did hear. Do not forget to consider body and facial language and expressions.
If a breakdown has already occurred, and the previous strategies have not worked, do not panic. There are ways to repair the conversation. Simply asking for repetition or rewording what was said can help. If necessary ask the person to write down what is said. This step is used perhaps most frequently. However, when possible, correcting the situation prior to the breakdown is more desirable. Ask your hearing healthcare provider to greater in-depth information regarding communication strategies today!