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Good advice for conversations

Even with the most modern hearing technology it can be difficult to hear everything that is being said when speaking directly to another person or in a larger group. Here are 13 simple tips to optimise such situations.

Good advice for conversations

Tell others about your hearing loss. Ask them to speak clearly but not to shout.

Be clear about your communication needs from the start. This will make the conversation easier for the other people too.

Face the person speaking and ask them to face you.
Three to six feet from the person speaking is the ideal distance. Your hearing aid has only a small microphone, so the closer you are to the sound you are listening to, the better.
To see their expression and mouth movements clearly, try to make sure that the light is falling on their face.

Do not hesitate to ask people to repeat or rephrase what they said. If you do not, and are hoping to pick up the sense later, you may lose the thread of it altogether.

Encourage people to make a point of letting you know when they are introducing a new topic of conversation and what the subject is.
If necessary, ask the speaker to slow down and speak more clearly.

Make use of what you can see as well as what you can hear. Gestures, facial expression and mouth movements can give you helpful clues to the meaning of what someone is saying.

It may be helpful to use questions with yes/no answers to confirm information. For example, "Did you say four o’clock?” rather than "Did you say four o’clock or five o’clock?”

Try to keep calm and do not panic. If you become anxious or flustered, you might find it harder to follow what is being said.

Think about learning to lip read better. Everyone lip reads to some extent, especially in noisy places.

Be kind to yourself! No one hears correctly all the time.

If you have normal hearing but are speaking to a person with hearing loss, there are some things you can do to help them:

  • Get the person's attention before you start talking. Talk into the person's better ear if that's a factor, too.
  • Speak slowly and clearly and face the person. Don't shout, because that distorts your lip movements.
  • Use facial expressions and body language when talking. Your hands should never cover your lips or face.
  • Position yourself so the light is on your face.
  • Watch for any misunderstanding. If the person's reply doesn't make sense, repeat what you said with different words. Or ask the person to repeat what he or she heard to make sure the right message was received.

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