Good communication habits are vital in any relationship but especially when talking to someone with hearing aids. By acting strategically about where, when, and how to communicate, friends and relatives can avoid miscommunication pitfalls and optimize their interactions.

A person’s success with hearing aids can be strongly influenced by using the following six strategies:

1. Avoid talking from different rooms.

Talking back and forth across rooms causes poor sound quality and eliminates visual cues such as hand motions and expressions. Instead of speaking across rooms, face the person you are talking to and speak clearly and at a steady volume.

2. Mute the television when speaking.

Speaking over the television is a battle not worth fighting. Many people with hearing loss cannot listen productively when sound is emanating from multiple sources. The best option is simply pressing mute.

3. Say your partner’s name before speaking.

People with hearing loss might miss the first few words spoken to them since they are not paying attention. Before speaking, say your partner’s name first.

4. Minimize background noise when possible.

Background noise is one of the biggest distractions to those with hearing loss. At a social gathering, avoid distracting entertainment such as television or music by lowering the volume or just turning it off.

5. Choose quieter restaurants with good lighting.

Individuals with hearing loss struggle to listen in noisy restaurants. When able, visit less crowded, quieter restaurants with good lighting. This way, the friend with hearing loss can listen with less distraction and clearly see your visual cues. Choosing to sit at a booth rather than a table can also help improve sound direction.

6. Rephrase rather than repeat.

When someone with hearing loss asks, “What did you say?” consider rephrasing what you said rather than repeating it. Some people struggle to hear certain words and may understand better if you used another word or phrase.

All people, regardless of their hearing status, can benefit from using good communication strategies. I hope these strategies will help you communicate easier and more effectively.