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Communication Strategies for Family and Friends

Get the listener’s attention

  • Make sure the listener is aware you are talking. Get the listener’s attention by saying their name or getting a response back.
  • Alerting the listener of topic changes and getting feedback is a good way to keep the conversation flowing.

Keep a good visual

  • Keep your hands and any objects away from your mouth while you are talking. The listener will benefit from a clear view of your face. Make sure to be in a well lit area. Your speech will sound and look much clearer if you are not chewing gum or food while you are talking. 
  • Be sure to be near the listener and in front of them so that he or she can see your face. Being too far or too close to the listener can be detrimental to conversation. Remember, hearing-impaired listeners cannot not hear or understand well when the speaker is yelling from across the room.

Clear speech does not equal loud speech

  • One of the most common communication errors is speaking very loudly to a hearing aid user. However, there is an immense difference between clear speech and loud speech. The hearing aid is already making the sounds loud enough for the user, so you, the speaker, do not need to talk louder. 
  • Talking unnaturally loud can distort your voice and make speech even harder for the hearing aid user to understand. Your job as the speaker is to slow down your rate and speak clearly. There is no need to over-annunciate your words as long as you are speaking clearly.

Pay attention to their body language.

  • Sometimes it is apparent that the listener did not hear you, but he/she is too shy to speak up. 
  • If you think that he/she did not hear you, ask them if you need to repeat what you said.      

Rephrase

  • If the listener is having difficulty understanding you, try rephrasing instead of repeating. It can be become frustrating for you and the listener if there is a continual breakdown in the repetition.
  • An example of rephrasing is saying “Can you tell me the girl next door’s name?” instead of repeating, “Who’s she?” multiple times.

Involve the listener in conversation

  • In difficult listening environments, it can be easy for an individual with hearing loss to get lost in the conversation. Make sure to receive feedback from the listener by asking questions and giving him/her opportunities to interject. 
  • When in large groups, ask the listener with hearing loss questions directly instead of asking someone close by. Engage him/her in conversation!

Keep patient and calm

  • Communication breakdowns can be frustrating for everyone. If you are having difficulty, remember that becoming agitated will only make it worse. 
  • Think of all these suggestions and ask the listener what you could do to make the conversation easier. 

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