Be Aware of your Space
Where you spend time with your friends and family matters for your listening situations. For example, try not to meet someone for the first time in a noisy place and suggest quieter options.
In the kitchen, ask that folks not run water, realign the dishes in the dishwasher, clink glasses or plates and other noisy things if you are to converse.
Go Face-to Face
Technology, culture, accents, vocal qualities and quirks are all part of the weave of words both on the phone and face to face. Cell phones have their own idiosyncrasies but so do cordless phones, flip phones and even wired phones. And don’t get me started about those who prefer to speak on the speaker phone.
Learn to ask people to text or email before calling so you know whom to expect. Also ask some folks to text or email instead of calling as the telecommunications might be difficult.
If someone is turned around ask them to face you when speaking.
When you are a backseat passenger seat yourself in the rear seat that gives you the broadest soundscape. It’s easier to stay engaged in the car talk that way.
Time it Right
Upon waking or heading to bed, or because of fatigue, stress, attention and how busy folks may be, don’t expect communication to be easy so don’t force anything. Become aware how these things might affect your communication.
Care for your Hearing Technology
Change your batteries and filters more regularly, it can be the difference between a great conversation and lots of stress and embarrassment.
Ask for Help
Make it a point to ask someone whose voice qualities make it difficult to understand them to speak up or repeat themselves until you understand what they are trying to say. People with accents and voice quirks are themselves aware of them and are usually willing to adjust. Communication is always a two way street and not just the province of us “hearing lost.” Remember that and don’t be embarrassed to ask for what you need to enhance your communication.
Know how to manage groups
Groups are tough too because everyone is not speaking at the same volume, with the same vocal architecture and sound quality. As the result, you have to make adjustments on the fly in the course of just a few sentences spoken by several different people. A key here is to work the room and start smaller one-on-one conversations where possible.
Relationships are critical to life, love, friendships and work. They make life richer and more delicious but not all relationships are equally satisfying or possible to maintain if communication is challenging.
So exhale. Give those you love a quick refresher course. Once told is not twice learned – so tell them again. And repeat as often as needed. Those who care about you and your relationship will understand and adjust. They will also appreciate that you cared enough to speak up.