Those of us with hearing loss must sometimes rely on those with typical hearing to help us have better conversations and more successful interactions with the hearing world. See my post on this topic here. But we must also take responsibility for stacking the deck in our own favor. By following some simple rules of thumb, we can put ourselves in a better position to hear and communicate as best as is possible. Here are my tips. Please share yours in the comments.
1. Be assertive and inform others: Don’t be shy about disclosing your hearing loss. If someone does not know you have a hearing loss, it is unlikely he will make a point to face you and not cover his mouth while he speaks. I recently attended a retreat where we all had to introduce ourselves to the group the first day. I made a point to disclose my hearing loss at that time and it worked wonders. People were considerate when speaking with me and nobody got upset when I sat right by the speaker at each of the sessions.
2. Put others at ease: If you are comfortable with your hearing loss, others will be as well. Let people know that they can ask you about it. I sometimes break the ice by saying, “If you say something to me and I don’t answer, or if I look at you like you have two heads, please don’t think I am rude, it is probably because I didn’t hear you.” This makes people more forgiving of a social faux pas or two, and more willing to try again to engage you in conversation.
3. Stay informed: Since context is so important in following conversations, try to stay abreast of current news and social happenings. It is easier to understand a new name (of a country or a celebrity) if you have seen it written about recently.
4. Maintain good energy: Hearing takes extraordinary concentration for those with hearing loss so it is important to approach communication as well rested and alert as possible. Eat healthy food, try to exercise regularly, and be sure to get enough sleep. Don’t be afraid to take breaks from communication if your energy is lagging.
5. Ask questions in a balanced way: I like to know all the details, so sometimes, I drive people crazy with questions to clarify what they said or with requests to repeat something. I am starting to accept that in certain situations, following every nuance is not important. This does not apply at the doctor, or in other situations where full knowledge is imperative, but in social situations, not hearing every word is probably fine. When I scale back my clarification questions, we all enjoy the interaction more.
6. Roll with the punches: It can be upsetting when you feel like you are missing things, but try to keep it in perspective. Be grateful for what you can hear. Even if you don’t catch every word, you can still enjoy being with others. Maintaining a sense of humor about the inevitable miscommunications is also key to more enjoyable communications.
Copyright: Shari Eberts/LivingWithHearingLoss.com. Reprinted with permission.