Tips & Tricks For Adults

Help Improve Your Hearing in Difficult Listening Situations

Difficult listening situations don’t mean that you have to hear poorly. With these tips you may be able to improve your hearing and listening skills regardless of the intruding sounds.

What’s a Difficult Listening Situation?

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • Dinner at a restaurant, where it seems like you can hear the table next to you more than your own table?
  • Talking with someone who keeps covering their mouth, or for example is smoking?
  • Trying to talk with someone on the other side of the room?
  • Listening to a lecturer who is standing far away from you?
  • Someone talking really fast, or really loud?

If you have difficulties hearing in situations like these, that’s normal. There are easy ways that you can make the best of a difficult listening environment, and work to improve your speech understanding and comprehension skills.

The Most Important Part: Ask for Help

The first step in working to improve your hearing is getting hearing people to understand your needs as a person with hearing loss. Most people won’t mind doing certain things to help you hear better, but it’s up to you to tell them what these things are.

Things to Improve Your Hearing

What are these things? Depending on the specific situation you might find some of these helpful:

  • General conversation tips:
    • Ask them to speak clearly and naturally, but to not shout or exaggerate their pronunciation. Speaking slowly helps to improve comprehension a lot.
    • If you don’t understand it the first time, just ask them to repeat or rephrase what they said.
    • Ask them to move closer to you, or you can move closer to them.
    • If you can’t see their face or gestures because it’s too dark, ask to move to an area with good lighting.
    • If someone is eating, smoking, or covering their face while talking to you, just ask them to stop while they’re talking.
    • If you’re in a noisy situation, like a room where a TV is turned on in the background, move to another room if possible.
    • If there’s a loud noise that you know will be over soon, like having a loud truck drive by, just wait for it to end and then get back to your conversation.
    • If the information is important, like directions to somewhere specific, ask to have them written down as well.
    • Concentration is important but tiring. Don’t be afraid of taking regular breaks, and if you return to a group conversation just ask someone to sum up the main parts of what was said while you were away.
  • When out at an event like a movie or at church:
    • Arrive early to make sure you get an optimal seat: one that is close to the speaker, but far away from walls
    • If you’re going to a movie or the theater, read reviews in advance to familiarize yourself with the plot.
    • Instead of stressing out by focusing on hearing every single word, try to understand the bigger picture. Use verbal and non-verbal cues to get a sense of what the speaker means instead of what they’re saying.
    • Ask the venue in advance if they can make sure the speaker has a microphone.
    • If you use hearing aids or a cochlear implant ask the venue if they have assistive listening devices in place like an FM system or loop induction system.

Keep a Listening Journal

All of these tips can help to improve your hearing in certain situations, but you might also want to look to the long term.

With a hearing journal, you can write down what you hear with an implant, memorable experiences in listening, and problems you’ve had, and how you’ve overcome them. This way you’ll have a record of the progress that you’re making with your hearing as well as a record of exact ways that you’ve improved your hearing. And, share this with your hearing professional (audiologist, rehabilitation specialists, Speech Language Practitioner, it doesn’t matter) during your next appointment—they might have some valuable input!


I know that the feeling of not being able to hear can be a big source of anxiety, but in the end just try to relax! With these simple steps you can be sure that you are doing everything you can to improve your hearing.

Have you talked about your hearing loss with others? How do you approach the subject?

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