It is usually the ones we love, that we have the most difficulty understanding. We spend the most time with our spouse and family members. They are ones we become frustrated with when we do not hear or understand what they have to say. In the years of providing audiology services, I have also discovered that we usually do not use good communication skills when talking to our loved ones. We talk to our spouse from the other room, with our heads in the refrigerator or while the TV is playing. And we wonder why they are not understanding us.
There are several communication tips that can make conversation easier to understand. Speech does not always carry well through our homes. It has difficulty traveling through walls, from one room to another or down the hall. Therefore it is best to talk when both parties are in the same room.
Rather than saying "What?" or "Huh?" try to make a specific clarification request. If your spouse or family member mumbles, ask him or her to please speak more clearly. Many people cover their mouths when they are talking. When this happens, tell them you can understand them better if they would not cover their mouths.
Background noises (loud music, people talking, dishes clanking, television and music) make it especially difficult for people with hearing loss to listen easily. Turn down the TV or music in the home when talking. Choose quieter restaurants, or ask your place of worship to carpet the social hall to reduce reverberation. Anticipate difficult listening situations and plan how to minimize them. Your audiologist can help you with these strategies.
As you know, it is much easier to understand when people face you as they speak. Therefore ask your loved ones, coworkers, and friends to get your attention and face you when talking.
Even though it is true that many people mumble, speak too fast, cover their mouths, and/or drop the volume of their voices at the end of sentences, do not blame your listening difficulties on them. Remember your hearing loss is "invisible" to the people you converse with. They may forget to speak in a manner helpful to you. Accept responsibility and make communication requests in a polite, yet assertive manner.
The first step in taking responsibility for your hearing loss is to have an evaluation by an audiologist. Show the ones you love, this Valentines Day, that what they have to say is important to you. For more information about hearing loss or to schedule an appointment call 704-633-0023.
Dr. Lorin S. Oden is a Board Certified Audiologist at Hearing Lifestyles located at 464 Jake Alexander Blvd., West, Salisbury, NC 28147. Call 704-633-0023 or visit their website at www.hearinglifestyles.com