Communication Strategies

People who have hearing loss usually exhibit one of the following strategies when communicating with others:

  1. Passive – Most people with hearing loss exhibit this communication style. Passive communicators tend to avoid social interactions or withdraw from conversations due to fear of not being able to communicate well or from embarrassment of not understanding. When they do participate, they may pretend that they understand by limiting their responses to a nod. They perceive it as “easier” to be passive. 
  2. Aggressive – Aggressive communicators dominate conversations in order to avoid having to work to understand their communication partner. They perceive any communication difficulties as being the speaker’s fault. A person with an aggressive communication style may ignore a speaker in order to force him or her to repeat. Because they trample on the needs of others, aggressive communicators are often perceived as hostile or overbearing. 
  3. Assertive – Assertive communicators are not afraid to disclose their hearing loss or to be open and honest about their communication needs when necessary. They are not afraid to use communication strategies or to advocate for themselves. Assertive communicators get their needs met.

Here are some tips and tricks to be more assertive when communicating!

Ask for a heads up. Have loved ones say your name and get your attention before they start talking.

Face others when they’re speaking. Make sure you can see a person’s face and lips when they talk. 

Turn off distracting noises. These items can include a TV, dishwasher, radio, or washing machine. 

Repeat information back. Many numbers and words sound alike. When you get important details from someone, like a time or date, repeat it back to them. 

Know your limits. If you’re sick or tired, hearing and understanding others may be worse than usual.

Tell others what you need. Be clear about what you need them to do. You can ask them to look at you when they speak. Also, ask that they not eat, chew gum, or smoke when they’re talking so you can see their mouth.

Include loved ones at doctor appointments. Your audiologist can teach your family how your hearing devices work and suggest other ways to handle hearing loss.

Don’t let hearing loss go untreated. People who don’t get help for their condition are more likely to feel depressed or anxious. Research has also found a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.

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