Trouble Understanding? How to ask for help so that others will "hear" you

Susan Binzer, an audiologist, identified five keys to success for people with hearing loss when they ask others for help.

1) Use “I” statements.  Do not blame others.  Example:  Instead of “Your hand is in the way!”  try “Excuse me—I  will understand you better if you would please lower your hand.”

2) Make a specific request. Instead of, “It’s too noisy in here,” try “My hearing aids help me to hear better, but I still have difficulty hearing in noise—could we move to a table away from the piano?”

3) Explain why you are making the request. It is important to explain why the request is being made because people with normal hearing don’t know what to do. For example, they may not know that a person with hearing aids might still have trouble when people speak rapidly. Never assume that others understand your hearing loss. “I wear hearing aids, but I still have some trouble when people talk fast.  Can you please slow down?” 

When people speak slowly, speech automatically becomes clearer. In fact, asking someone to speak more “slowly” is preferable to asking them to speak more “clearly,” so you are not implying that their speech was previously sloppy.  People often need reminders because their tendency is to speed up again later.

4) Be courteous. People are more likely to comply. If you act frustrated or annoyed, people will become defensive. 

5) Express your gratitude. Being grateful increases the chances that the speaker will remember how they can help and they will be more likely to help the next time.

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