It’s your annual holiday party, the room is crowded, a band is in the far corner blasting
a song and the din of conversation rises to a steady roar. You can barely hear your own thoughts when who comes over, but your boss’ husband. He has a mouthful of food and big smile on his face. He asks a question and eagerly waits for your response. You think it has something to do with Donald Trump. Hmmm. Do you take a chance and offer your political opinion on Donald Trump, do you simply nod, or do you ask him “What?” only to be faced with this same dilemma again.
There may be no easy fix, however, with a little foresight, the stress of this type of
situation can be lessened. Many social settings include music, many people and
conversations, and a whole lot of noise. Communicating in restaurants, parties etc. can be a challenge even if you don’t have hearing loss. Communication is a two way street, and by addressing both sides, perhaps these difficult situations can be made easier.
Here’s what you can do to minimize these problems:
Move away from noise origins - Look for a side room at an event, one away from the band or DJ, if that is a problem. Hearing in noise is very difficult, even with adequate hearing. Situating yourself in the corner of the room, not in the middle, may cut down on some of the extraneous noise. As a listener, cut yourself some slack, and realize you will not hear 100% of the conversation in an extremely noisy environment. Also, don’t be shy about asking someone to repeat something or speak a bit louder, especially in a party setting.
Don’t talk with your mouthful - Your mother was right! This is not only rude, but can affect speaking style and make it hard for a listener to understand. Chew, swallow, and then speak!
One conversation at a time - This may be hard for all the multi-taskers out there, but you can only really listen to one person at a time. Give your full attention to the one speaker, wait your turn before you speak, and definitely put away your phone when conversing! That not only diverts attention, but tells the speaker they are not that important.
Speak face-to -face - Shouting from across the room or speaking to the back of a head is a sure way not to be heard. Looking directly at the listener, face-to- face at eye level, is key. The sound is then directed towards the listener who can also read facial expressions in order to gather more information from the message.