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5 December 2016 at 4:32PM

The Right Strategies to Improve Listening and Communication

Marie-Josée Paul
In: Helping relationship

It is difficult to communicate with others when you have trouble understanding them; when they never seem to speak loudly enough; when they always seem to be mumbling. These are the kinds of challenges faced by those affected by hearing loss. The right listening and communication strategies can help improve the performance of your hearing aids. Here are the strategies to favour and those to avoid to better understand those around you.


For the hearing impaired

First off, let the person you are speaking with know that you have a hearing problem. This will avoid many misunderstandings and will allow for the use of other strategies.


  • Ask the person to specify the topic of the conversation.
  • Position yourself near the person who is speaking, either facing him or her or on a slight angle.
  • Make sure you can see the person's face.
  • Stand with your back towards the window or the light and adjust the lighting as needed.
  • Eliminate as much ambient noise as possible (e.g., turn off the television, dish washer, etc.).
  • If you miss something, do not be afraid to ask the person to repeat using different words.


For friends and family

The first step to engaging conversation with someone that is hard of hearing is to get the person's attention before starting to talk.


  • Tell them what you will be talking about.
  • Choose a calm environment where there is less ambient noise.
  • Position yourself about three feet from the person and try to face him or her while you speak.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • If the person does not understand something you say, try repeating using different words.
  • Make sure the person understands what you are saying.
  • Take turns speaking when you are in a group.


What to avoid

Certain seemingly trivial behaviours can make communication difficult. It is important to be aware of these behaviours in order to avoid them.


  • Hiding your lips or speaking with something in your mouth (gum, cigarette, etc.).
  • Moving your head while speaking.
  • Interrupting or changing topics abruptly.


Essential support

This learning curve requires the support of friends and family members. Their encouragement and positive attitudes help motivate the person suffering from hearing loss to communicate and become socially active.

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