Even with the best hearing aids on the market, there will be times when the listening environment makes it difficult to follow a conversation. Here are some strategies you can try to help maximize your communication skills, and minimize your frustrations:
Avoid bluffing: Pretending to follow a conversation prevents you from enjoying social interactions. Be honest when you haven’t heard something, and let your conversation partner know you have a hearing loss.
Ensure a clear view of the speaker’s face: Try standing close to your conversation partner (ideally, 3-6 feet) and making sure their face is well lit. For example, at a restaurant you should avoid having the speaker sit with their back to a window, as this will cast a shadow over their face. Being able to see facial expressions and lip movements can help give us context and clarity, and help us understand the intent of the speaker.
Minimize noise: Even for those with normal hearing, background noise can be a challenge. When possible, turn off sound sources, like the TV or radio. If you cannot control the noise, try moving away from it, or turning your back to the sound source.
Avoid “pardon” and “what”: You should be specific about what you have missed, since most people will automatically repeat what they had said, word for word (often while shouting). Here are some more direct ways you can seek clarification:
- General Repetition: Could you please repeat what you said?
- Specific Repetition: The dog did what when he was home alone?
- Request for Confirmation: The car will be ready at noon?
- Request for Rephrasing: Could you explain that in a different way.
- Request for Specification: What day are you leaving?