Communicating with someone who has a hearing loss

From the boisterous telling of your favorite joke to the soft whispers shared with your child, communication is more than just the passing on of information. It’s about understanding and being understood. Communication is how we develop and maintain relationships, and how we interact with the world. It keeps us connected to the people we love and expresses who we are to the world.

When there are difficulties in communication, which can happen with hearing loss, it can lead to misunderstandings and frustration. It can even stop us doing the things we once loved, like catching up with friends or going out to dinner.

But here’s the good news: there are plenty of ways you can improve the way you communicate and continue to enjoy the things you love. It just takes some little changes and maybe help from an audiologist. Read on for some tried and tested tips.

Tips for communicating more effectively

  • First, gain their attention. Face the person directly and, whenever possible, remain at the same eye level. Missing the beginning of the message can make understanding very difficult.

  • Speak clearly, but don’t shout.

  • Keep your hands away from your face. Give the listener every chance to see your whole face.

  • Reduce background noise by turning off the radio or television. Relatively quiet listening conditions are recommended because this provides the best-possible voice reception and allows the listener to use any visual cues they may need to assist speech understanding.

  • Make sure light is not shining in the listener’s eyes.

  • If you’re not making yourself understood, find a different way of saying the same thing.

  • Be aware that the listener may have difficulty understanding speech, even with a hearing aid. Some hearing-impaired people have more difficulty following a conversation than others.

Remember that communication is a two-way process. Both the listener and the speaker should take responsibility for clear communications.

Hearing Australia is always here to help, for more information on communication techniques we’re happy to chat.