Practical strategies to feel comfortable when spending time with others.
We are social beings by nature – and socializing is healthy. In fact, research shows that social interactions benefit our mental and physical health. From weddings to celebrate, parties to enjoy, meetings to attend, holiday dinners to eat, and many other social scenarios to savor, life offers endless opportunities to connect with others. If you have hearing loss, social situations may seem daunting. There are some simple strategies that can help you to navigate social situations with confidence. Start with these eight social tips for people with hearing loss:
- Scope out the quieter areas of a room
- Ask the host or venue to lower the music volume
- Focus on speaking to the people directly around you
- Enlist a trusted friend
- Ask for confirmation
- If you choose, wear an assistive listening device
- Take breaks to reset
- Do your best to relax and enjoy the moment
1. Scope out the quieter areas of a room
At your next social event, try and sit or stand away from the most high-traffic areas, like the food and drink stations. If possible, head for a spot with a wall behind you to block out noise from one side. If you’re in a noisy zone when someone initiates conversation, try saying something like, “I’m having trouble hearing you. Could we move to a quieter area?” And if you happen to be the one responsible for making a group reservation at a restaurant, ask the hostess for your group to be seated at a quiet table away from the kitchen, bar, or air conditioner.
Discover more tips for dining out with hearing loss here.
2. Ask the host or venue to lower the music volume
If you find yourself at a venue with loud background music that makes conversations with your companions difficult, seek out the host or a venue employee and ask them to turn it down. Others will probably appreciate the change too.
3. Focus on speaking to the people directly around you
The Hearing Health Foundation recommends: “At a seated dinner, don’t try to participate in conversations across large distances. If you would like to talk with someone, move closer or ask that you continue the conversation when you have a chance to be closer together.”
4. Enlist a trusted friend
If you are attending an event with a friend or family member, enlist their support to help fill in the blanks if you are having difficulty hearing a conversation. People genuinely want you to be involved and would be happy to assist. You just need to let them know what you need. Whether you prefer subtle assistance only when needed or would like to stick together for the entire event, be sure to let them know what would be most helpful.
5. Ask for confirmation
A common concern is needing to ask people to stop and repeat themselves. If you didn’t catch every word in a social setting, instead of asking them to repeat, try asking for confirmation by restating what you heard in question form: “You said the concert is on Saturday?” You can also ask for specifics, such as “Which day is the concert?” It’s a strategy that continues the conversation in a natural flow, while helping you get the clarification you need.
6. If you choose, wear an assistive listening device
Not everyone with hearing loss chooses to use assistive listening devices, like hearing aids or personal amplifiers. If you do, experiment with the settings at home or with your audiologist before you go to a social event to learn how to fine-tune your device for different types of surroundings.
Learn more about an audiologist and how they can help people with hearing loss here.
7. Take breaks to reset
If at any point you start feeling overwhelmed at a noisy social gathering, take a few minutes to hit the reset button. Step outside for some fresh air, visit the restroom, or find a quiet room to pause and refresh your mental energy.
8. Do your best to relax and enjoy the moment
In a social setting when conversation is flowing around you, don’t worry about trying to hear every single word. Hone in on conversations that particularly interest you or simply sit back and enjoy the laughter and togetherness!
If you’re finding it increasingly more challenging to hear when attending social events, consider scheduling an appointment with your audiologist for a hearing test. Discover five signs of hearing loss here.
These social tips for people with hearing loss are most applicable for in-person gatherings. If you’re having conversations with loved ones via phone instead, try using a captioned telephone that delivers captions of the conversation, so you can stay connected without missing a word. For more articles with tips on living with hearing loss, visit our blog today.