Living with Hearing Loss
October is Audiology Awarness Month. Visit the rest of the CHS Knowledge Centre for more articles and advice on hearing loss, communication tips and more.
Having a hearing loss doesn’t mean you need to take a backseat in life. See where you fall on our list of communicator types and with the right adjustments, you’ll be on the road to a lifetime of good communication.
Passive communicators often start out in denial about their hearing loss before comfortably sliding right into the background – not wanting to call attention to their problem or ask for help. Passive communicators will avoid situations and conversations where they may need or want to participate.
Aggressive communicators have no problem letting you know that they have a hearing loss or that you may need to modify some aspects of your communication. Aggressive communicators tend to dominate conversations – the more they talk, the less they must try to listen. Aggressive communicators often place blame on others during communication rather than accepting their own role and responsibility to ensure they understand what is being said. They may even go as far as ignoring their communication partners when they don’t understand.
Unlike passive communicators, assertive communicators ask for communication help when necessary, but don’t demand it like aggressive communicators. Assertive communicators stand up for themselves to ensure their needs are met. They do this through a combinations of mastering effective communication strategies and advocating for themselves.
The Basics to Being Assertive
- Be upfront about hearing loss
- Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for what you need
- Keep background noise low
- If you are unsure you understand, summarize what you think was said so the speaker can confirm or explain again
- Face the person you're speaking with
- Try to keep a sense of humour
- Don't be too hard on yourself and give yourself a break in a quiet area to regroup
- If you're too tired or distracted for a conversation, ask to postpone
- Try to have conversations in places with good lighting, so you can see the speaker's face, gestures and body language
- If you're going to a restaurant with friends or family, choose off-peak dinner times and sit somewhere away from loud areas like the servers’ station or kitchen
- When you're with a group position yourself in the middle of the room or group so you can see people's faces.
- When joining a conversation, ask for the topic so you have contextual cues.
Repair Strategies (tips for your communication partners)
- Get your attention before starting a conversation
- Face you when speaking
- Repeat more slowly
- Rephrase what he or she has said
- Give you the key word or subject of conversation
- Spell a word
- Write something down, especially important dates, times or appointments
- Use gestures
- Simplify or shorten the sentence
Ask For Help
- Use "I" statements (e.g., “I need you to please repeat that last number”)
- Explain why you need an adjustment
- Be specific
- Be polite
If you are experiencing any signs of hearing loss, contact CHS to make an appointment for a hearing test or take our online hearing test.