How to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Test

We don’t need to tell you the symptoms of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a different type of problem: persuading someone you care for to get their hearing evaluated and treated.

But just how are you supposed to get through to someone who denies there is even an issue, or that simply shrugs it off as “just part of getting old”?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as just recommending to them that they need their hearing tested. They won’t see the need, and you won’t get very far using threats, ultimatums, or other coercive tactics.

Even though it may seem like an impossible scenario, there are other, more discreet approaches you can employ. In fact, you can tap into the massive body of social scientific research that reveals which techniques of persuasion have been determined to be the most consistently effective.

In other words, you can utilize tested, researched, and confirmed persuasive methods that have been shown to actually work. It’s worth an attempt, right? And examining the strategies might help you to think of additional ideas.

With that in mind, here are 6 scientifically tested techniques of persuasion and how you might use them to persuade a loved one to get their hearing tested:

1. Reciprocity

What it is:

The principle of reciprocity is very simple: if someone does a favor for you, you’re strongly compelled to return the favor for them.

How to use it:

Timing is everything. You plan on asking your loved one to get their hearing tested at some point anyway, so why not make the request soon after you’ve done something special for them?

2. Commitment and Consistency

What it is:

We all have a strong psychological desire to think and behave consistently.

How to use it:

The key is to start with small commitments ahead of making the final request. If you start by telling your loved one to get a hearing test, you likely won’t see much success.

Alternatively, ease into the topic by casually sharing an article on hearing loss and how widespread it is. Without mentioning their own hearing loss, get them to disclose that hearing loss is a more prominent issue than they had believed.

As soon as they confess to a couple of basic facts, it may be less difficult to discuss their own individual hearing loss, and they may be more likely to accept that they have a problem.

3. Social Proof

What it is:

We have a tendency to think in terms of “safety in numbers.” We tend to follow the crowd, and we assume that if a number of other people are doing something, it must be safe or beneficial.

How to use it:

There are at minimum two ways to use this technique. One way is to share articles on the many advantages of wearing hearing aids and how hearing aids amplify the quality of life for millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.

The second way to use the technique is to schedule a hearing test for yourself. Inform your loved one that you want to confirm the well being of your own hearing, but that you would feel better if they went with you and had their own assessment.

4. Liking

What it is:

You are more likely to be persuaded by people you personally like than by either a stranger or by someone you dislike.

How to use it:

Solicit the assistance of people you know your loved one likes or respects. Attempt to find that one person whom your loved one consistently seems to respond to, and have him or her talk about and highly recommend a hearing test.

5. Authority

What it is:

We have the tendency to listen to and have respect for the viewpoints of those we perceive as authority figures.

How to use it:

Share articles on how celebrities, athletes, and other popular figures wear and benefit from hearing aids. You can also share articles from trustworthy sources that summarize the necessity of having your hearing tested. For instance, the World Health Organization just recently published an article titled “1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss.”

6. Scarcity

What it is:

Scarcity produces a sense of urgency when what we want is perceived as limited or in short supply. Scarcity creates the feeling that, if we don’t act quickly, we may lose something once and for all.

How to use it:

The latest research has linked hearing loss to many different serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, memory impairment, and rapid cognitive decline. Hearing loss also gets worse through the years, so the earlier it’s dealt with, the better.

To apply scarcity, share articles, such as our earlier blog post titled 8 reasons hearing loss is more dangerous than you think, with your loved one. Show them that every day spent with untreated hearing loss worsens the hearing loss, deteriorates health, and increases the risk of developing more serious conditions.

If all else fails, just give it to them straight. Explain to your loved ones how their hearing loss affects you, combined with how it’s impacting your relationship. When you make it about your needs and emotions rather than theirs, the reaction is usually better.

Have you had success persuading someone to have their hearing tested? Let us know your methods in a comment.


The six principles of persuasion were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and can be found in his book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss

It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before getting a professional diagnosis, in spite of the reality that the signs and symptoms of hearing loss are transparent to others. But are those with hearing loss just too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a few different reasons.

Perhaps you know someone with hearing loss who either denies the issue or refuses to seek professional help, and even though this is unquestioningly frustrating, it is very conceivable that the indicators of hearing loss are much more clear to you than they are to them.

Here are the reasons why:

1. Hearing loss is gradual

In most cases, hearing loss comes about so slowly that the afflicted person simply doesn’t experience the change. While you would notice an swift change from normal hearing to a 25 decibel hearing loss (characterized as moderate hearing loss), you wouldn’t notice the minor change of a 1-2 decibel loss.

So a gradual loss of 1-2 decibels over the course of 10-20 years, while generating a 20-40 total decibel loss, is not going to be detectable at any given moment in time for those impacted. That’s why friends and family are virtually always the first to observe hearing loss.

2. Hearing loss is often partial (high-frequency only)

The majority of hearing loss cases are classified as high-frequency hearing loss, indicating that the impacted individual can still hear low-frequency background sounds normally. While speech, which is a high-frequency sound, is strenuous for those with hearing loss to understand, other sounds can usually be heard normally. This is why it’s quite common for those with hearing loss to say, “my hearing is fine, everyone else mumbles.”

3. Hearing loss is not assessed by the family doctor

Individuals struggling with hearing loss can obtain a false sense of well-being after their annual physical. It’s common to hear people state “if I had hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.”

This is of course not true because only 14% of physicians regularly test for hearing loss during the yearly checkup. Not to mention that the main symptom for the majority of cases of hearing loss — trouble comprehending speech in the presence of background noise — will not present itself in a calm office atmosphere.

4. The burden of hearing loss can be shared or passed on to others

How do you remedy hearing loss when there’s no cure? The solution is straight forward: amplify sounds. The issue is, while hearing aids are the most effective at amplifying sounds, they are not the only way to achieve it — which people with hearing loss quickly identify.

Those with hearing loss frequently turn up the volume on everything, to the detriment of those around them. TVs and radios are played exceptionally loud and people are made to either shout or repeat themselves. The individual with hearing loss can get by just fine with this approach, but only by transferring the burden to friends, family members, and co-workers.

5. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is mainly subjective: it cannot be diagnosed by visible investigation and it normally is not accompanied by any pain or discomfort. If those with hearing loss do not recognize a problem, chiefly because of the reasons above, then they likely won’t take action.

The only method to appropriately diagnose hearing loss is through audiometry, which will calculate the exact decibel level hearing loss at several sound frequencies. This is the only method to objectively determine whether hearing loss is present, but the hard part is of course getting to that point.

How to approach those with hearing loss

Hopefully, this essay has generated some empathy. It is always frustrating when someone with hearing loss refuses to accept the problem, but keep in mind, they may legitimately not grasp the severity of the problem. Rather than demanding that they get their hearing examined, a more effective strategy may be to educate them on the components of hearing loss that make the condition practically invisible.

What to Expect at Your Hearing Exam

If the unfamiliar creates anxiety, then a visit to the hearing specialist is particularly stressful. While most of us have experience with the family physician and the hometown dentist, the visit to the hearing specialist might be a first.

It sure would be useful to have someone describe the process up front, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll see, the process of getting your hearing evaluated is ordinarily simple, comfortable, and pain-free — with portions that can actually be fun.

So here’s how it will go:

As soon as you arrive at the office, you will check in with a staff member at the front desk who will hand you a couple of forms to fill out. Shortly after completing the forms, a hearing specialist will come with you into a room to get started with the hearing assessment, which is composed of four parts:

Part 1: Case History

case history

The hearing specialist starts the process by getting to know you, your medical history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparation for this step is crucial, because this is where you get to describe to the hearing specialist the details of your hearing loss, what you will be expecting from treatment, and your personalized hearing needs.

This part is all about you: what do you want to achieve with better hearing? Do you desire to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more active in work meetings? Do you desire to be more involved at social gatherings? The more you can convey to your hearing specialist the better.

Next comes the testing.

Part 2: Otoscopy


The first diagnostic test to be completed is termed an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually explore the ear canal and eardrum to find out if your hearing loss is correlated to infections, earwax buildup, or blockages. If the cause of your hearing loss is something as basic as earwax accumulation, you could most likely start hearing better within moments simply from expert earwax removal.

Part 3: Tympanometry


The following test is known as tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. An instrument is placed into the ear that will modify the air pressure, evaluating how your ear reacts to various pressures.

To fully grasp this test, you have to first know that hearing loss falls into one of two broad types:

  1. Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread hearing loss. It is also identified as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves destruction of the nerve cells of hearing.
  2. Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from blockages or obstructions that limit sound transmission before the sound reaches the nerve cells of hearing.

Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to make sure that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone problems. Conversely, Audiometry, which is outlined next, will quantify sensorineural hearing loss.

Part 4: Audiometry


The concluding group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are collectively referred to as audiometry and will measure your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best method to measure sensorineural hearing loss.

With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be able to pinpoint:

  • Which frequencies you can hear comfortably and which you have a tough time with.
  • The minimal decibel levels, at different frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
  • The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as captured on an audiogram).
  • Your ability to understand speech, with or without background noise.

The test itself, from your outlook, will be comfortable and uncomplicated. You will be presented with sounds and speech through earphones and will be requested to display when you can hear the sounds by pressing a control or raising your hand.

Reviewing results and planning treatment

Soon after the testing is complete, your hearing specialist will evaluate your results with you. If your hearing loss will require medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for instance), your hearing specialist can make the appropriate referral.

If your hearing loss can benefit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to select the best solution for you, your budget, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic concerns.

Pretty simple for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?

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