What you should tell loved ones about your hearing loss
When you have hearing loss, it can be frustrating when your family and friends don’t know how to effectively communicate with you. Worse still, sometimes they become frustrated with you, which can make the situation worse when you’re the one who has to deal with hearing loss. However, communication is a two-way street and there are a ways you can help them help you, and build a hearing-friendly environment for yourself.
Commit to telling people about your hearing loss
“It’s noisy in here.” “Can you stop mumbling?” “The wind is strong so I can’t hear you.” How many of these types of excuses have you used to avoid bringing up the topic of hearing loss?
Telling people you have hearing loss or wear hearing aids shouldn’t be embarrassing, but sadly there is still a stigma attached to hearing loss. Remember though, hearing loss is simply a medical condition. If you hide or ignore the fact you have hearing impairment, your relationships will suffer. By letting the people around you know about your condition, they will be able to better communicate with you.
Go further than telling them, offer specific tips to help them communicate with you
But telling them about your hearing loss is just the beginning, you also need to tell them what they can do to make communication easier for you. Give them the specific tools to help you and be assertive in asking for that help. It’s about taking part of the responsibility for good communication without apologising for having hearing loss, because sometimes people don’t know what to do. You will need to put them at ease by clearly telling them the simple things they can do so both parties can enjoy the conversation.
Here are some tips to help those around you communicate with you effectively:
- When meeting new people say something like this: “I have a hearing loss, but I can talk with you quite well if you….” Now state exactly what the person needs to do so you can hear them effectively. This shows people that although you’re hard of hearing, they can still converse with you by doing a few simple things.
- “Try to catch my attention before you speak to me. It’s easier for me to hear when I’m looking at you.” Let people know that you need to see people’s faces when they speak or not to cover their mouth. Often people don’t even know they’re turning around or gesticulating.
- “Can you please speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Don’t shout either. But don’t go overboard. I’ll let you know if you’re going too fast.” Many people misunderstand hearing loss and think shouting or speaking at snails-pace helps you! Let them know shouting tends to distort voices.
- “Use body language to show what you are saying.” If conversational cues help you hear better, tell people.
- “Repeat yourself if it doesn’t seem like I heard you.” Some people think they’re offending you if they need to repeat something twice. Let them know that you would rather know what they’re talking about than miss out on the conversation.
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