If you are experiencing hearing loss, these active listening strategies will enhance your communication with other people. The tips will help create a more positive communication experience than hearing aids alone can provide.
Look at the person who is speaking. Position yourself to get a full view of the face, not just a profile. A lot of information can be obtained by watching as well as listening.
Wear your glasses and/or hearing aids when indicated.
Reduce the distance between you and the person talking. The ideal distance is 3-5 feet.
Concentrate on the thought or ideas that the speaker is expressing, rather than straining to understand every word that is said. Don't get discouraged or give up if you miss a few words.
Become familiar with the way different people express themselves such as facial expressions, vocabulary, sentence structure, etc.
Maintain realistic expectations about what you will be able to hear in various situations.
Check the situation in public places before blaming your hearing loss. Find out if other are also having difficulty. It may be due to a variety of reasons.
Try to be aware of the topic of conversation and environmental cues that may help you to make educated guesses. Friends can be coached to give occasional leads about the subject being discussed.
Maximize the use of lighting. Have the speaker where it may cast a shadow.
If you are in a room with an open door or window facing a noisy area, close it.
Resist distractions. Try to reduce or eliminate interfering background noise. This includes the television, radio, running water etc. In social situations, you may wish to find a quieter corner.
Consider improving the acoustics. This may include installing carpet, draperies, or padded furniture.
When going to a restaurant, try to make plans in advance. Go during off-peak hours, reserve a table in a quiet corner and sit with your back to the noise. Request a booth if available.
When attending a play, concert, church service, or lecture take advantage of all you can. Get a seat as close as possible. Request an assistive listening device is available. Read the plot in advance.
Don't hesitate to ask someone to clarify information you may has missed and be specific. In order to reduce frustration on both sides, it is helpful to be very specific about what you may have missed.
Maintain an active interest in people and events. Knowledge about affairs will help you to follow many discussions more readily.
Don't be afraid that people will think you are staring at them while you are trying to understand what they are saying.
Remember that conversation is a two-way interaction. Do not monopolize it in an attempt to control it.
Be willing to acknowledge your hearing loss and ask for help. Most people will be glad to help if your request is specific.
Don't hesitate to tell those around you what they can do to make communication easier.
Pay particular attention to your own speech. A long standing hearing loss, may cause a deterioration of voice and enunciation.
Don't bluff and nod as if you understand when you don't.
When taking information over the phone, repeat back what you heard to verify.
Work at listening and do not get into the habit of allowing someone else to listen for you.
The Human Element
Everyone needs time to relax. Recognize that illness and fatigue will make listening more difficult. Allow yourself the luxury of withdrawing at times.
Avoid tension. Try to relax and keep your sense of humor. Tension interferes with the ability to speech read and drains energy. It is not possible for even the best listeners to hear everything. The ability to laugh is a great help in adjusting to any listening situation.
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