How to listen on the phone with hearing aids

Talking on the phone can be stressful for all of us — not just those with hearing loss. Without visual clues like facial expressions and hand gestures, there’s less information to guide our communication. The audio quality on cell phones can also be notoriously bad, making it hard to decipher meaning between static and missing words.

“There are a few strategies we can use to listen better on the phone — notice I said ‘listen’ not ‘hear.’ These strategies don’t require technology like wireless hearing aid connectors or specific phone brands; they’re strategies to improve your listening and comprehension,” says Hanan Merrill from Nanaimo Hearing Clinic

Consider your questions

If you don’t understand what someone says on the phone, what questions do you instinctively ask?

“Many of us rely too much on questions like ‘what?’ or ‘huh?’ But there are two issues with those one-word questions,” Hanan says.

First, when you ask, ‘what?’ the person on the other end of the phone will usually repeat the same phrase that you had trouble understanding the first time. There’s a chance you’ll catch more the second time around, but there’s also a very good change you still won’t be able to hear.

“Short questions like ‘what’ or ‘huh’ can also imply laziness. The person you’re talking to may be accommodating the first time you ask, but they’re likely to get irritated or dismissive if you use those one-word questions a lot. That can cause your conversation to grind to a halt.”

Instead, Hanan suggests using alternative questions like, ‘Can you rephrase that?’ or, ‘Can you please say that again differently?’

“Those questions demonstrate more interest on your part, and chances are, when the person re-phrases your brain will put together the bits and pieces and a lightbulb might go off in your head: you got the message!”

The benefits of ‘yes’ or ‘no’

Once you piece together what the person was saying, it’s time for one more clarifying question. And make sure it only requires a yes or no answer. For example, ‘Did you say we’re meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m.?’

“This is beneficial for two reasons: it confirms that you understood the right thing, and it’s also a lot easier to hear a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ than a lengthy description,” Hanan says.

These tips are useful for everyone — not just those of us with hearing loss. Give them a try on your next phone call, and see if it improves your listening.

For more hearing tips, make an appointment at 250-585-4100 or get in touch online at Find Nanaimo Hearing Clinic at 501-5800 Turner Rd in Cactus Club Plaza.

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