Top 10 communication tips for hearing people

  1. Make sure you have face-to-face contact with the person you are talking to
    and focus the person’s attention before you speak.
  2. Be patient. Communicating with someone who doesn’t speak English and/or
    has hearing difficulties, takes time. Remember the person is just as keen to
    communicate as you are.
  3. Think Visual: Use natural gestures and facial expressions to help someone
  4. Avoid colloquialisms, sayings and idioms. Some people are very literal in their
    understanding or they may be unfamiliar with the reference.
  5. Speak clearly and at a natural pace. Avoid exaggerated lip movements as this
    can make it harder to lip read.
  6. Always keep a pen and paper handy. If you need to write things down, keep it
    plain and simple.
  7. Don’t assume understanding. Check with the person that you understand what
    they are saying and check that the person you are talking to understands you.
  8. If someone doesn’t understand you, don’t keep repeating the same thing, try
    saying it another way or use another strategy e.g. drawing a map
  9. If you need to have a lengthy discussion, book a qualified communication
    professional e.g. a BSL interpreter
  10. If you use communication support, speak directly to the client, not the

Make sure that background noise is at a minimum.

Make sure you have the person’s attention and they are looking at you when you speak

Always look at the face of the person you are speaking to – don’t turn away/ look down when speaking

Ideally, be between 3-6 feet in front of the person you are speaking to

Make sure that your face can be seen – that you do not have light behind you which casts a shadow

Do not hide your face with hands or objects such as pens, cigarettes, etc.

Try to use clear facial expressions and hand gestures wherever possible

If the person does not understand what you are saying, rephrase your sentence or as last resort, write something down

Be patient – lip reading is a skill and to some extent, guess work, as some sounds can be ‘seen’.

Don’t mumble – speak clearly using plain English without jargon

Don’t change the conversation topic without warning

Don’t shout – it distorts your lip patterns

Some additional pointers that will help you connect and communicate more effectively:

  • Don’t make assumptions – everyone and their communication needs are different. A person with a hearing aid could have partial hearing loss or be profoundly deaf. The range of hearing differs from person to person.
  • Meeting someone who is ‘different’ from us creates a natural stress response called the ‘flight or fight’ response. Stress compromises your ability to communicate – so breathe and relax!
  • Be emotionally aware – respond in a way that shows people you understand and can acknowledge the person as an individual

Make sure your nonverbal signals match your words – it helps create trust