It is difficult enough to have hearing loss during normal times, but the current COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more difficult for a person with hearing issues to interact with others.
Although we all should wear a mask to help stop the spread, masks pose a particular challenge for those with hearing loss, and many people have had a difficult time adapting to this new way of communicating.
Those with impaired hearing often depend on seeing the lips and facial signals of an individual who is speaking. Wearing a mask covers the mouth and a portion of a person’s face, and it can muffle the sound as well. Plus, with social distancing protocols in effect, a person’s muffled voice can be much harder to make out when you are six feet apart.
Fortunately, options are available that can help you communicate better with those around you, whether you have hearing loss or not. Here are a few tips to consider.
Use The Right Body Language
To better deliver meaning and communicate effectively, body language is critical. Most importantly, body language, hand movements, and posture are essential.
- Try not to cross your arms.
- Try to keep your hands out of your pockets.
- When required to acknowledge that you are listening, nod along.
- Use your eyebrows and eyes. The most important thing is good eye contact.
- Let the story be told through your eyebrows. You can communicate happiness through raised eyebrows, raised cheeks, and crow’s feet.
- Pinched eyebrows together and drooping eyes may indicate sadness.
- You might look angry if your eyebrows are in a ‘V’ shape.
Be Mindful Of How You Speak
Call people by name if you can. Saying their name is the best way to get someone’s attention. It develops a bond and illustrates courtesy and professionalism. It also helps him or her to know that you’re interested in the discussion.
Speak slowly, enunciate, and repeat yourself to ensure that the other person understands clearly. We tend to talk in a hurry, particularly when we’re busy. Taking the time to speak slowly and purposefully will help solve the difficulties of communication.
Use descriptive vocabulary. Masks make it impossible for a person’s face to convey emotions. Instead of depending on facial gestures, we need to express our feelings with language more.
Ask for confirmation of understanding. Ask the people you talk to the following question: “Does that make sense?” This will avoid a lot of errors and missed opportunities when engaged in tricky conversations.
Choose An Appropriate Mask
While wearing a face mask with a fun slogan, cartoon, or a massive smile printed on it might be lighthearted and make you look more open, it might not be the most appropriate choice if you are in a business meeting or other setting where accurate communication is key. Instead, for those occasions, find a neutral-colored and breathable alternative that will be comfortable to wear while speaking for extended periods.
Be Patient With Yourself And With Others
If you get it wrong, give yourself a break, and equally, forgive others for their missteps. Everyone is trying their best to get by during these troubling times, and it helps to extend humility to others. It is important to remember that we all can flub an interaction, as you might in a regular face-to-face communication without a mask. Cut people some slack and they’ll return the favor.
Kenwood Hearing Centers
If during this pandemic you find it harder than the average person to understand others, you may have a hearing loss. To help you reconnect with the ones you love, we provide comprehensive health services and run extensive hearing tests. If a hearing loss is detected, we offer professional hearing aid fitting and counseling. Contact us today for a consultation.