Hearing Health Blog

Hearing and Tinnitus Center

Picture this – you are sitting in your favorite restaurant. The ambience around you manifests with dimmed lighting, small cozy tables and myriad conversations from people front to back. It is a Saturday night so naturally it is quite crowded. The waitress approaches your table to recite tonight’s specials. But to your dismay you cannot hear anything. You hear every other word so you’re trying to figure out the missing pieces. Did she say ‘steak’ or ‘bake’, ‘salmon’ or ‘cumin’? So, you politely ask her to repeat the specials again, this time staring right at her lips. Ah, that makes more sense you say to yourself, ‘baked salmon’.

If this has happened to you, you are certainly not alone. All too often these days social venues are highly noisy with few options for quieter space. For someone without hearing loss this situation could be challenging but the effects are intensified with impaired hearing. A person with hearing loss must work harder and rely more on topic/context to make sense of the conversation. Anyone in this situation will vouch that working hard to hear tires out the brain.

So what can be done? Hearing aids are often a viable option for diagnosed and aidable hearing loss. Their noise reduction technology and speech clarity features effectively improve listening in these challenging situations. But what about for someone without hearing aids? Or perhaps, is there a way to ‘hear better’ even with hearing aids? The answer lies in communication strategies.

It has been said that communication is a two-way street. It is not one-sided and requires effort from both parties to create a seamless transaction. The following communication strategies can be used in noisy places or simply when communicating with loved ones or friends. These tips are designed to enhance sound and also remind us that we are in control of our communication patterns. The more one advocates for their listening needs, the better off they will be!

  1. Slow the rate of speech
  2. Ask for repetition
  3. Ask for rephrasal of information (By rephrasing information, the listener can use context to understand the message more easily)
  4. Ask people to face you when they speak, move their hands away from their mouths, not to exaggerate speech, and not to talk while chewing
  5. Minimize background noise while communicating (i.e. turn off the TV, sink)
  6. Choose a well-lit area with the light source behind you, not behind the talker
  7. When dining out, ask for a table at the perimeter of the restaurant
  8. Be aware of noise sources and seek to position yourself away from them
  9. Use visual cues (i.e. lip reading, body language)
  10. Be sure your hearing aids are working properly before entering a challenging situation

By trying these simple, yet effective strategies communication will flow more easily for everyone involved. But additionally if you or someone you know is struggling to hear, call us to schedule a hearing evaluation!

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