The home we keep with our family is where we each return at the end of each day to appreciate the safety and closeness of one another’s company. It’s important for all of us in the family to feel secure, loved, and heard. Especially when hearing loss is a concern for one or more family members, we may need to expend a little extra effort into making sure that we hear and have been heard.
Communication Skills For Everyone
The more we get to know someone, the more casual we tend to become in our communication style. Nowhere is this more true than within the family! We spend so much time together, we begin to speak almost thoughtlessly, raising our voices’ volume to toss thoughts from room to room or speaking without preamble while standing behind another person. None of us means to be “rude,” it’s just that we start to take shortcuts when it comes to communicating, the more we understand the depth of our true connection.
But these shortcuts can sometimes lead to miscommunication, which can cause stress and strife. This is true for those with normal hearing as well as those with hearing loss—whether or not they wear hearing aids. While our tendency may be to slip into less and less considerate communication styles, it may be worth maintaining a certain bar! Avoiding miscommunication and reinforcing the value of our family ties can take only a minimum of effort, and our home environment can be a bit more comfortable for everyone.
Ensure that Hearing Loss in the Family Is Treated
A good-quality set of hearing aids can work wonders for someone who struggles to hear. Hearing aids today have special programming that raises the level of speech and suppresses background sound, sometimes raising the level of speech comprehension in noisy situations to better than normal hearing. It’s hard to overstate just how important it is that those with mild-or-greater hearing loss wear a set of hearing aids to facilitate communication!
When family members with hearing loss are properly fitted with quality hearing aids, even a significant degree of hearing loss can be overcome and communication made more successful. However, that’s not to say that we should simply get a set of hearing aids and then resume yelling from room to room!
Two Basic Rules
While these rules should be stated and reminded, it’s also important to model them as much as possible. Nobody is perfect, but the more we demonstrate that which we would have others also enact, the easier the effort becomes.
- If you’re speaking, make sure that what you’ve said has been heard and understood. If not, find a way to communicate more successfully.
- If you’re listening, let the speaker know whether you have heard or not heard them.
With these two rules, your family will understand the degree of consideration required to communicate successfully.
While the two basic rules above set the guidelines for expected outcomes, some strategies may be useful on the path to achieving them! These should not be hard-and-fast rules, but rather ideas about how to reach the goal of better communication from one situation to another. While some of these strategies may be most useful when communicating with someone who has hearing loss, others can be helpful when speaking with anyone at all.
- Don’t yell from one room to another, but seek the person out with whom you need to speak and talk to them directly.
- If you need to speak with someone whose back is turned, get their attention and let them know you have something to say before saying it. This will let you make sure they’ve understood you.
- If someone has better hearing in one ear than the other, make an effort to speak into their “good” ear.
- Face a person when you speak, and make sure your mouth is not covered in case they need to read your lips.
- Don’t chew gum—or anything else—when speaking.
- If you need to speak at length, make sure the room is well-lit and there is as little background noise as possible.
Family communication is a group effort, and frustrations are bound to occur. Remember to model good behavior as much as possible, and others will take the lead eventually!
If you or a family member is in need of hearing loss treatment, make an appointment for a hearing test today and see for yourself the difference that hearing aids can make!