04 Feb Communication Tips & Clear Speech Practices
At Hearing Institute Atlantic we work everyday with folks who have a hearing loss and have observed that even those with mild losses can often find it difficult to understand what is being said. Research shows that it isn’t always about making sounds louder, but rather making them clearer and easier for the brain to interpret that is important.
Our best practices when it comes to communicating can be used to help keep conversations going and make sure you stay connected to those you love.
Clear Speech Practices;
- Get the person’s attention, before staring a conversation
- Often a person with hearing loss becomes aware of conversation at about the 3rd or 4th word of a sentence, as this is the time it takes to recognize that someone has started speaking to them, so getting there attention first is essential for good, clear communication.
- Talk face to face. (not through walls!)
- Although this seems rather obvious, people establish habits and lead busy lives, so often we think our partner can hear us when we talk, chat, or even yell from another room, or over the TV, or while washing dishes etc, but the reality is, face to face communication works because along with your voice, visual cues are vital to understanding speech, so your expression, lip-reading, or gestures all help to place the conversation in context and enable your partner to hear better.
- Speak a little louder
- No need to shout, especially if the person is wearing a hearing aid, the aid will do its job of making your voice louder. Shouting often distorts speech, so speaking just slightly louder than average is recommended.
- Speak a little slower
- Our brains do all the heavy lifting when it comes to understanding speech, so speaking a little slower (especially young people) makes it easier for our brains to process and interpret sounds. As we age, our auditory system changes and cognitive ability starts to slow down, so a slower rate of speech enables the brain time to process what was heard.
- Pause between sentences, and use shorter sentences
- Imagine trying to keep up with a running, long or never ending conversation when you have a hearing loss, it’s impossible, even with the best hearing aids! Our brains lose focus, start to wander and other information or thoughts start to swirl around, couple this with hearing loss and the situation starts to get uncomfortable. Using references such as names or places can make conversations easier to understand and by pausing throughout we allow the brain time to catch up and stay engaged in what is being said.
Clear communication is essential to avoid misunderstandings, embarrassment and frustration and to help alleviate anxiety. An appropriate smile or touch can mean a lot to the person who has a hearing loss. Along with our Clear Speech Practices, the following Communication Tips are also helpful when speaking with folks that have a hearing loss, either treated or untreated; these steps can go a long way to ensure conversations have the best chance of being heard.
- Reduce all background noise to a minimum. Music, television, air conditioners, dishwashers and other people talking in the same room can interfere with a person’s ability to hear clearly. Either turn off the competing background noise or move away from it, so that your voice can more easily be heard by the person with the hearing loss.
- Reword your sentence if the person does not understand. Do not repeat the same words over and over. Some words are easier to hear and speech read than others. Try to rephrase and use other words that have the same meaning.
- Get closer. The nearer you are to the hard of hearing person, the clearer your speech. A good distance is 2 – 4 feet.
- Allow seating preference in a group setting. Allow the person who has hearing loss to sit as close to the main speaker as possible. Encourage only one speaker at a time and alert the person to a change in topic.
- Keep the light on your face when speaking. This helps with speech reading and other visual cues.
Hearing loss is the 3rd most prevalent condition in adults aged 55 and over, after heart disease and diabetes. It affects 1 in 10 people in Canada and its numbers are growing.
Clear communication is essential to maintaining postive communication with those you love. By using these tips and practices, you can better communicate in your daily lives, and even those with only a mild hearing loss can have easier, more comfortable conversation. Through understanding and patience, we can alleviate some of the frustration and loneliness associated with hearing loss. Trust your Experts at Hearing Institute Atlanctic and practice these helpful tips today!