The holiday season brings along with it the things that you had been looking forward to the whole year. Delectable food, decorated neighborhood, dancing lights along the streets, and more importantly, the company of our near and dear ones. It is a time when we take a break from the hustle bustle of life and relax with our friends and family, get updated about the ongoings in their lives, and relive beautiful memories. It’s a time when texts and emails get replaced by conversations!
As much as it is a welcome change, being ‘in the conversation’ may become a challenge for those of you who already have difficulty in hearing. A large group of people or too many speakers at a time may only add to your woes and it’s not uncommon to feel like giving up. However, before you surrender to these challenges, try out these tips to become an active(and happy) participant of such conversations. The key is to remember that these are your loved ones and they would certainly not mind making some adjustments for you.
Try creating an ambiance that is suited to hearing better. This is particularly applicable if you’re the host. Small adjustments like arranging the seating positions to avoid bright light in the backdrop, replacing the bright lights with dim ones to ensure visibility of the speaker’s face, and canceling background noises can help you set the stage for easier conversations. If you’re visiting someone, politely request them to arrange things accordingly or try to sit in a position that lets you see everyone while they are speaking.
Need Help? Just Ask
It is amazing how willing people can be to come forward and make the required adjustments to help their loved ones listen better. The best part is that it requires only a tiny effort from your end: to ask for it. Just as a person who wears glasses communicates his or her inability to read smaller fonts etc., it is essential that you open up about your problem. It is also important because hearing loss is not as easily perceivable by others as problems like vision impairment. You can communicate the following to those who you are conversing with:
- Ask them to pronounce the words clearly, at a pace that is comfortable for you to grasp.
- Request them not to talk while eating or chewing in order to be able to see them mouthing those words. Ask them to avoid covering their mouths(as when lighting a cigarette etc.) while speaking.
- Encourage eye contact while conversing. It is also a good idea to suggest that people call out your name before they begin a conversation with you.
- When there’s an abrupt change from one topic to another, request them to announce something like “new topic” to catch your attention.
- Tell them how much you would appreciate the use of hand gestures and facial expressions for communicating the emotion of the conversation.
- Above everything else, it is important to speak out how it feels to be in your position to help people understand your hardships.
Make Your Contribution
One can easily get disheartened when it becomes difficult to catch up with the conversations. However, getting tensed and frustrated can only end in awkward and unpleasant experiences. To pick up whatever is being said by a person efficiently, you need to pay detailed attention to various things, like a person’s face and hand gestures, their lip movement etc. All these factors demand unwavering focus, especially in a group setting. One thing that you can try is to repeat what you think you heard rather than uttering “what?” Little adjustments like these go a long way in preserving the flow of a conversation. Moreover, the speaker will appreciate your effort to understand whatever is being spoken. Just as for the speaker, it is a good idea for you as well to use your facial expression to communicate how well you are able to comprehend what is being spoken.
Take A Breather!
The social gatherings are a way to relax and unwind after long periods of work and everyday worries. Therefore, they should not turn into something that stresses you out. If you feel exhausted or are unable to focus, do not force yourself. It is okay to excuse yourself and get some rest. Constant efforts to converse actively can be draining and it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed. It is imperative that you take it easy.
Hearing impairment is an unfortunate thing that some of us have to deal with. However, as human beings, we are blessed with the ability to adapt. It does take a while to adopt these tips so it is important to stay relaxed and positive above everything else. The key is to remain your jovial self and be grateful to the people who care for you and help you listen better.