Communicating with somebody who has hearing loss can be stressful. Many hearing impaired individuals avoid social activities out of embarrassment, or because the effort required to hear is taxing. But with a little preparation, you can ensure a smoother conversation. The following tips will help you both communicate more effectively.
- Before starting a conversation, make sure you have the other person’s attention. Addressing them by name will help prepare them.
- If possible, let the other person know what topic you will be discussing beforehand.
- When speaking, face the other person directly and maintain eye contact.
- Visual cues are tremendously helpful, so do not try to speak when facing another direction or, worse, from another room. Similarly, avoid covering your face with your hands or other objects, and do not eat or drink while speaking.
- Hold your conversation in a quiet room with as little background noise as possible.
- Speak slowly and precisely, pausing between each sentence to make sure the other person is following along easily. Do not shout or whisper.
- If necessary, repeat yourself. Substitute a different word or phrase if it appears the other person is having trouble understanding what you are saying. You might want to avoid slang and other colloquialisms.
- If it is helpful, try writing down key points of your conversation.
- Don’t ignore the person you are speaking with. Give him or her a chance to contribute to the conversation, as well. Avoid interruptions.