Updated: Dec 22, 2018
Do you feel like you miss parts of the conversation?
Do you find yourself asking 'huh?' what did they just say?
Do you think your hearing isn't as good as it used to be?
If so, here are some communication strategies I go through in the clinic. I also ask that a significant other attends at least one or two appointments so we can discuss these (plus more) together. Remember, communication is two way and if we can be on the same page we are one step closer to better communication.
1. Talk to each other in the same room. Does this scenario sound familiar?
You have finished cooking dinner and you yell out to your partner that "Dinner is ready" (they are in the other room watching TV or listening to music). . . No response from them. You raise your voice to try and grab their attention again "Dinner is READY", at the same time starting to dish up dinner. . . Again no response. Finally you march to the other room and yell " DINNER IS READY!"Your partner says "Ok. No need to yell at me". We live in a World where we assume everyone can hear us. We talk to each-other through walls. Have you ever done the above where you are asking your spouse or family member something from another room?
TRUTH HACK The reality is we are all guilty of this poor communication behaviour. We do not go to school or tafe or university to get taught to address and talk to each-other well. If you can adopt talking to each-other in the same room, you are on the right track to communicating better.
2. Get the persons attention or address them by their name.
Sometimes I just start talking or asking my questions and my partner looks at me mid way through as though I am alien. Face to face, in the same room, communication is key to good communication.
TRUTH HACK I know I've done this numerous times and I am a hearing health care professional who recommends these strategies! The truth of the matter is we are all humans and sometimes we need to be reminded to improve our behaviours. If you start talking to someone we recommended getting their attention first by saying their name out-loud and then making eye contact. Then proceed to talk. Alternatively, touching their hand or shoulder to make eye contact is another good way to engage in conversation.
3. Reduce background noise and distractions.
Turn off music or the TV to ensure you have each-other's full attention. Move away from loud sources if you are not in control of the background noise. If you are at a cafe or restaurant, ask the waiter or maître d' if they wouldn't mind turning down the music. Ensure you have good lighting on your face so your facial expressions and lip movements are easily seen. Sit close to the person you want to converse with.
It's getting closer to Christmas and the festive season break. There are a lot of Christmas carols on repeat and stress levels are high with finishing off your work notes and worrying about what to buy your loved ones. There are a lot of distractions at every corner. When you are feeling stressed or distracted, try to immediately slow down your actions, focus on your breathing and remember that this time of the year is meant to be about relaxing and sharing time with your loved ones. You are allowed to ask for the volume of music or TV shows to be turned down so you can engage and listen better.
4. Check in to see if the other person has heard you. Ask questions as you go along and allow the other person to answer. After all, communication is 2 way.
Actively listening takes practice. Active listening means engaging in the conversation by nodding your head when you agree or occasionally verbally responding to show you are attending to the topic. It means allowing the speaker to talk or demonstrate their points without interruptions or interjecting with your opinion until the end. This also means not trying to talk over the person or getting your point in when you want to answer one question and the speaker has not finished.
5. If the person has hearing aids or a cochlear implant or implantable device. Ensure the hearing aids/implant are on correctly and working. Do not shout at the person with hearing aids/implant.Communicate to the person wearing the hearing aids as you would normally.
When we see someone with an aid we automatically default to a few societal stigmas. You've got to remember that these medical grade devices or pieces of technology are being used to improve a persons quality of life and communication. Many work in a compensatory manner to the individuals hearing loss. The above communication strategies imply to those with hearing aids or implants too. There is no need to yell or completely slow down your speech rate when talking to someone with these devices.
There is no exception to your behaviours when one has a hearing aid or cochlear implant. We must all employ better communication behaviours and strategies to improve the flow of conversations.
Let me know your tips and tricks on how you improve communication at home, work or out socially. I'd love to know what techniques you employ in the comments below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hears 2 ears, Kat Penno #earwax #hearing #audiology #hearingloss #listenup #facetoface #talking #communication #hearingcollective #canyouhearme #tinnitus #ears #hearingaids #cochlearimplant #hearables #cerumen