One might struggle to hear for many reasons, even while wearing hearing aids. The environment, size of the room, the direction of speech and much more. Wearing hearing aids and accessories (like a microphone) can help. There are a number of other simple things you and your conversation partner can do to help further.
Starting with the basics, as much as possible, try to face the person you are speaking with. Sound waves travel in the direction they are projected in. This means if the person is facing away from you, the sound will go in a different direction. So you’ll naturally be hearing less already. Furthermore, we all subconsciously read facial cues, expressions and even basic lip-reading, so facing the person helps with these hints.
Your environment can also be working against you. For starters, if you are in a loud environment with background noise, it will be hard to hear speech. Which isn’t to say you should avoid anywhere that is noisy! But if you go to a loud restaurant, try to find a quieter table, for example. The sound reverberates on walls, so sitting outside, for instance, can help reduce the background noise.
These same principles apply to speaking with someone when there is no background noise, just in reverse. If you are in a wide open room, the sound can go anywhere and will make it harder to hear. When having a conversation, try to avoid the large empty rooms. You can also try to have a wall behind you so the sound can bounce off and help you further. If you can, also find a well-lit environment to help you see facial cues and give you a boost.
Speaking to someone with hearing loss.
If you are the one speaking to someone with hearing difficulties, keep this in mind as well. You also need to be mindful that the person you are speaking with might not realise you are talking. So start by getting their attention, calling out their name or tapping them on the shoulder, for instance. Avoid calling out to them from a different room.
Our natural reflex.
Furthermore, while our natural reflex would be to speak slower and louder, it’s important not to overdo it. Our brains recognise regular speech patterns, and breaking down the word too slowly can make this hard to do. Similarly, with speaking louder, sounds can get distorted and not necessarily clearer. So if you find they are struggling to understand, speak a little slower and louder, but all within moderation. The focus should be more on enunciation, not rushing or mumbling words, and change to easier words if need be.
If you find that communication is a regular struggle, these simple strategies can go a long way to help. And of course, wear your hearing aids if you have them and make sure they are up to date. If you feel you have trouble hearing, give us a call to book an appointment and have a chat.