If you’ve got a hearing loss, I know that sometimes it’s just hard to have a conversation or understand what’s being said. That’s why I’ve put together these tips that you can use to make every conversation a great conversation.
They break down into two categories: ones you can use in advance, and ones you can use during a conversation.
Preparing for a conversation or activity gives you background knowledge about the topic or key themes that might come up. Here are some ways that you can prepare and help to avoid any potential difficulties.
- If it’s a movie or play, read reviews or plot synopses.
- For meetings, ask if you can have the agenda in advance.
- If you’re entering a group in the middle of the conversation, ask if you can get a quick summary of what they’ve been talking about.
- If there will be a large group with some strangers or just acquaintances, try to review the names of everyone you know who will be there.
- Summarize what you’ve heard and repeat it back to the speaker.
- When someone’s giving you important information ask if they could write down the important parts.
If you are feeling like it’s difficult to communicate, just let the other person know. Most people are open to helping you if it means that you’ll be able to understand better. Here are some ways that you could ask for help:
- Request that they ask you questions about what’s being said, or ask them questions to check that you’re following along.
- Ask them to speak a just a little louder, but in a still-normal voice.
- Let them know that very loud voices can be as difficult to understand as very quiet voices.
- Or, ask them to slow down a little and leave little spaces between their words.
- Say that short and active sentences, like “The boy hit the ball” are easier to understand than longer ones like “The ball was hit by the boy.”
- Ask for them to reword what they said, and that repeating the same words over and over again can be less helpful.
- Have them use natural gestures and facial expressions if they add to the message.
- Every now and then to check if you’re following along correctly, summarize what’s being said and ask if that’s right.
With these tips in mind you should be able to go into any conversation with more confidence and know that you’ll have an enjoyable and informative time.
This post was written with help from Janet Lane, a rehabilitation specialist at MED-EL.
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