Become an effective Communicator Despite Hearing Loss

Hearing Aids

Communication is reliably cited as one of the most—if not the most—significant factors to building and preserving healthy relationships. As stated by the PBS program The Emotional Life:

“How couples behave when solving problems together or arguing can predict the character and success of their relationship. A raised eyebrow, a hand on the arm, or a greeting all may seem like small things, but research shows that the quality of everyday interactions can make or break a relationship.”

Similarly, communication skills are equally important at work: one 2014 survey of nearly 600 employers discovered that communication skills are the most in-demand skill set among employers. In fact, of five major skill sets employers consider most valuable when making a hiring decision, communications skills top the list.

From preserving healthy relationships to getting hired to getting promoted, communication impacts nearly every part of our lives. Attempting to enhance our communication skills, then, is not a bad place to begin if we wish to make some positive improvements.

How to become a highly effective communicator

Coming to be an effective communicator is not complicated, but it will require some elementary skills and the motivation to practice.

The first step is to understand that the objective of any communication situation is a genuine, open-ended exchange of information where all individuals can be heard and appreciated. This requires assertive and articulate speaking abilities, but, just as significantly, requires powerful listening skills.

In fact, listening skills may be the most important component of communication. The explanation is very simple: if you cannot understand what is being said, you won’t have the ability to formulate a relevant and meaningful reply. This failure to understand is the root cause of countless misunderstandings, quarrels, and bad feelings.

Developing listening skills, then, is the single most significant thing you can do to become a more effective communicator. And while active listening can be challenging on its own, hearing loss will make things even harder.

Hearing loss and the obstacles to active listening

Active listening necessitates devoting all attention to the speaker. Only by totally understanding the communication can you produce a relevant and substantive response, and that’s why inadequate speakers are nearly always preoccupied listeners.

But what brings about the distraction?

Here are four typical sources of distraction and how hearing loss has a tendency to make things even worse:

Distraction # 1: Stress

If you’ve ever been highly stressed or anxious, you understand how difficult it can be to focus your attention. You’re more liable to be focusing on on your personal thoughts and feelings rather than on the speaker’s, and you’re very likely to miss out on essential non-verbal signs and to misread what others are saying.

Regarding stress, hearing loss by itself is a considerable source. You may feel anxious about missing important ideas or coming up with awkward responses. And, the battle to hear speech in the existence of hearing loss is a source of anxiety and strain itself.

Distraction # 2: Lack of focus

Active listening is difficult because our minds have the normal tendency to wander. You can’t both listen to the speaker and daydream, check your email, text, and prepare what you’re going to say next. Remaining within the present moment and concentrating on the speaker is the only way to pick up on the subtle points of the speaker’s message.

Hearing loss creates a lack of focus because it removes you from the present moment. If you’re trying to figure out what the speaker just said, you’re also losing out on what they’re saying at the moment. The continual catching-up almost guarantees that you’ll never completely understand the message.

Distraction # 3: Misunderstanding

Stress and lack of focus can both force you to misunderstand the message. This presents the chance of you becoming upset or irritated with a message that the other person never actually intended to send.

This at minimum wastes time and in the worst case manufactures bad feelings. Not to mention the aggravation of the individual who is persistently misunderstood.

Distraction # 4: Lack of confidence

If you lack self-confidence, you’ll find it difficult to assert yourself while socializing. You’ll probably also be preoccupied with what the other person thinks rather than on the content of what they’re stating.

Hearing loss makes things worse, of course, because your misinterpretations could be perceived as a sign that you just don’t comprehend the message. If you’re constantly requesting clarification on simplistic points, it makes it hard to feel sufficiently confident to be assertive.

How hearing aids can help you

Becoming a better communicator requires becoming a better listener, but how can you come to be a better listener if you have hearing loss? You have a few options, but because hearing aids have advanced so far with respect to identifying and amplifying speech, they actually are the perfect solution.

Contemporary digital hearing aids have a host of outstanding features made primarily for speech recognition. Many hearing aid models have background noise suppression, directional microphones, and sophisticated digital processing so that speech comes through loud and clear.

Without having to struggle to hear speech, you can focus all of your efforts on comprehending the message. Then, as you become a better active-listener, your self-confidence, assertiveness, and speaking skills will all take care of themselves.

If you have hearing loss and you’re prepared to start building distraction-free listening skills, arrange your hearing test today.

How Modern Hearing Aids Can Save Your Holiday Season

Holiday Hearing

Living with hearing loss throughout the holiday season can be especially challenging.

While you may actually prefer to NOT hear some of your relatives, the discussions you do wish to engage in can be stressful. And because nearly all large holiday events tend to be loud, it can be close to impossible to focus on any one person or conversation.

In order to engage in conversation, you have to cope with background music, people talking simultaneously around the table, and the Thanksgiving football game blaring in the background. This creates an impossible situation that can make you feel detached and excluded.

Short of forcing everyone to repeat themselves or remaining silent, what are your options?

It’s true, 10 years ago you didn’t have many. The older analog hearing aids could amplify speech—the issue was that they also amplified everything else, most notably background noise. Given that all sound was just made to be louder, it didn’t help a great deal with understanding the person you were speaking to.

But hearing aids have changed, and for the better. Specifically, modern hearing aids have two functions that can save your holiday season: background noise reduction and speech focus.

Background noise reduction

Older analog hearing aid models were in fact very simple gadgets. They consisted of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Sound was detected by the microphone, amplified, and sent through the speaker to the ear.

The problem was, however, that the hearing aid couldn’t differentiate between vocalization and background sound. The amplifier made all sounds louder, so unless you were in a tranquil setting, you experienced a tough time hearing voices.

Since holiday parties are anything but quiet, what you actually require is a hearing aid that can distinguish between sounds—which is exactly what modern digital hearing aids can do.

Digital hearing aids, in addition to containing a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, also include a digital processor. That means sound can be translated into digital information that the hearing aid can make use of to distinguish between various types of sounds.

By differentiating and labeling different types of sounds, today’s hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only sounds with certain traits, such as all of the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Background sounds, on the other hand, can be conveniently recognized and silenced.

Speech focus

In combination with restraining background sound, modern hearing aids can also recognize and concentrate on speech.

Speech has a special aspect in that it is composed mainly of high-frequency sounds. This makes it easy for the digital processor to differentiate between speech and background noise, which is mostly low frequency.

On top of it, digital hearing aids have what are called directional microphones, which can locate the direction of sound. Some hearing aid models can even focus the microphones in specific directions, such as the direction of the person you’re conversing with.

Schedule Your Hearing Test and Appreciate the Holidays Again

Are you ready to reclaim your holiday season?

Call us today and we’ll show you how to select among the amazing digital hearing aid technology available to you. Then, with your new hearing aids—outfitted with background noise suppression and speech focus—you’ll have the ability to hear all of the conversations with comfort and clarity.

As for the relatives you don’t want to hear? Not to worry, the hearing aids also come equipped with an off button.

Why Two Hearing Aids Are Better Than One

Hearing Aids

Are two hearing aids better than one?

If you’re looking for the short answer, then yes, the majority of cases of hearing loss are ideally treated with two hearing aids.

If you want to understand why, or are wondering about exactly why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.

The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision

Let’s begin with eyesight.

When we look at an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—in combination with height and width—permits us to experience the world in three dimensions.

If we had only one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be considerably affected.

The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)

The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Even though we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can normally determine both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.

Each ear obtains a slightly different version of each sound, and those differences are translated by the brain in a way that indicates location and distance. This enables us to hear in three dimensions, so that we recognize how far away and which direction sound is originating from.

In addition to being able to assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.

To verify the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in the car, shut off both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.

The Benefits of Two Hearing Aids

If our eye doctor informs us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly think about the merits of getting fitted with one lens.

So when our hearing specialist tells us that we have hearing loss in both ears, why do we need to be persuaded to get fitted with two hearing aids?

As we’ve seen, our ears work together so that our brains can best decipher the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.

With the capacity to establish the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:

  • concentrate on speech during a conversation even with significant background noise.
  • pick out specific voices among many.
  • extend the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
  • hear sounds without straining, which is less exhausting.
  • listen to sounds without the unnatural sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
  • Avoid the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.

That final point is important. If you have hearing loss in both ears but use only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become worse as time passes. This will quickly limit your capability to achieve all of the benefits just described.

If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing assessment with a qualified hearing professional. After your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will share the results with you in a chart known as an audiogram.

The audiogram will reveal if you have hearing loss in one or both ears, but the majority of cases of hearing loss are in both ears.

If this is the case, your hearing specialist will likely recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.