Communication is regularly cited as one of the most—if not the most—important factors to building and maintaining healthy relationships. According to the PBS program The Emotional Life:
“How couples behave when solving problems together or arguing can predict the character and success of their relationship. A raised eyebrow, a hand on the arm, or a greeting all may seem like small things, but research shows that the quality of everyday interactions can make or break a relationship.”
Similarly, communication skills are equally important at work: one 2014 survey of about 600 employers found that communication skills are the most in-demand set of skills among recruiters. In fact, of five leading skill sets employers consider most valuable when making a hiring decision, communications skills top the list.
From sustaining healthy relationships to getting hired to getting promoted, communication influences almost every aspect of our lives. Striving to develop our communication skills, then, isn’t a bad place to begin if we desire to make some positive changes.
How to become an effective communicator
Growing to be an effective communicator is not complicated, but it does call for some basic skills and the motivation to practice.
The first step is to recognize that the goal of any communication situation is an honest, open-ended exchange of ideas where all parties can be heard and understood. This necessitates assertive and articulate speaking abilities, but, just as significantly, requires powerful listening skills.
The fact is, listening skills may be the most significant component of communication. The explanation is very simple: if you cannot understand what is being said, you won’t be able to formulate a relevant and meaningful reply. This failure to understand is the underlying cause of countless misunderstandings, quarrels, and bad feelings.
Improving listening skills, then, is the single most significant thing you can do to become a superior communicator. And while active listening can be challenging on its own, hearing loss will make things even harder.
Hearing loss and the barriers to active listening
Active listening necessitates investing all attention to the speaker. Only by thoroughly comprehending the message can you create a relevant and substantive response, and that’s why ineffective speakers are almost always preoccupied listeners.
But what causes the distraction?
Here are four typical sources of distraction and how hearing loss tends to make things even worse:
Distraction # 1: Stress
If you’ve ever been overly stressed or anxious, you understand how difficult it can be to pay attention. You’re more likely to be focusing on on your personal thoughts and emotions rather than on the speaker’s, and you’re very likely to lose out on important non-verbal signals and to misinterpret what other people are saying.
Regarding stress, hearing loss by itself is a considerable source. You may become anxious about missing out on important information or coming up with awkward responses. And, the battle to hear speech in the presence of hearing loss is a source of stress and strain itself.
Distraction # 2: Lack of focus
Active listening is difficult because our minds have the natural tendency to wander. You can’t simultaneously listen to the speaker and daydream, check your email, text message, and plan what you’re going to say next. Keeping inside of the present moment and concentrating on the speaker is the only method to pick up on the subtle details of the speaker’s message.
Hearing loss creates a lack of focus because it takes you out of the present moment. If you’re attempting to determine what the speaker just said, you’re also missing out on what they’re saying right now. The persistent catch-up virtually guarantees that you’ll never completely understand the message.
Distraction # 3: Misunderstanding
Stress and lack of focus can both cause you to misunderstand the message. This presents the possibility of you becoming upset or annoyed with a message that the other person never actually intended to send.
This at the very least wastes time and in the worst case manufactures bad feelings. Not to mention the irritation of the person who is persistently misunderstood.
Distraction # 4: Lack of confidence
If you lack self-confidence, you’ll find it difficult to assert yourself while socializing. You’ll likely also be preoccupied with what the other person thinks rather than on the content of what they’re stating.
Hearing loss makes things much worse, of course, because your misinterpretations could be perceived as a sign that you just don’t understand the message. If you’re continually requesting clarification on simple points, it makes it difficult to feel sufficiently confident to be assertive.
How hearing aids can help
Becoming a better communicator necessitates becoming a better listener, but how can you become a better listener if you have hearing loss? You have a few options, but because hearing aids have advancedso far in terms of identifying and amplifying speech, they really are the ideal solution.
Modern digital hearing aids have a host of wonderful features made exclusively for speech recognition. Many hearing aid models come with background noise suppression, directional microphones, and state-of-the-art digital processing so that speech comes through loud and clear.
Without the need to struggle to hear speech, you can concentrate all of your efforts on comprehending the message. Then, as you become a better active-listener, your self-confidence, assertiveness, and speaking skills will all take care of themselves.
If you have hearing loss and you’re ready to begin strengthening your distraction-free listening skills, book your hearing test today.