Communication is regularly reported as one of the most—if not the most—significant factors to strengthening and preserving healthy relationships. As reported by 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.”
Likewise, communication skills are just as important at work: one 2014 survey of about 600 employers discovered that communication skills are the most in-demand skill set among employers. In fact, of five major skill sets employers consider most valuable when rendering a hiring decision, communications skills top the list.
From maintaining healthy relationships to getting hired to getting promoted, communication affects nearly every part of our lives. Seeking to enhance our communication skills, then, is not a bad place to start if we wish to make some positive improvements.
How to become an effective communicator
Becoming an effective communicator is not complicated, but it does call for some basic skills and the motivation to practice.
A good place to start is to acknowledge that the goal of any communication situation is a genuine, open-ended exchange of information where all individuals can be heard and understood. This necessitates assertive and articulate speaking abilities, but, just as importantly, requires powerful listening skills.
In fact, listening skills may be the most important component of communication. The explanation is simple: if you cannot understand what is being said, you won’t have the ability to formulate a relevant and significant response. This lack of ability to understand is the root cause of countless misunderstandings, quarrels, and bad feelings.
Developing listening skills, then, is the single most significant thing you can do to become a better communicator. And while active listening can be challenging in its own right, hearing loss makes things even trickier.
Hearing loss and the obstacles to active listening
Active listening requires dedicating all attention to the speaker. Only by totally understanding the communication can you produce a relevant and substantial response, and that’s why inadequate speakers are nearly always distracted listeners.
But what produces the distraction?
Here are four typical sources of distraction and how hearing loss has a tendency to make things worse:
Distraction # 1: Stress
If you’ve ever been overly stressed or anxious, you recognize how challenging it can be to pay attention. You’re more likely to be concentrated on your personal thoughts and feelings rather than on the speaker’s, and you’re likely to lose out on essential non-verbal signals and to misread what other people are saying.
With respect to stress, hearing loss by itself is a significant source. You may become anxious about missing important ideas or coming up with embarrassing responses. And, the battle to hear speech in the existence of hearing loss is a source of stress and strain by itself.
Distraction # 2: Lack of focus
Active listening is difficult because our minds have the normal inclination to wander. You can’t both pay attention to the speaker and daydream, check your email, text message, and prepare what you’re going to say next. Staying within the present moment and focusing on the speaker is the only way to pick up on the subtle points of the speaker’s communication.
Hearing loss brings about a lack of focus because it removes you from the present moment. If you’re trying to figure out what the speaker just said, you’re also losing out on what they’re saying at the moment. The continuous catch-up virtually guarantees that you’ll never totally understand the message.
Distraction # 3: Misunderstanding
Stress and lack of focus can both force you to misunderstand the message. This introduces the chance of you becoming upset or annoyed with a message that the other person never actually meant to send.
This at the very least wastes time and at worst produces bad feelings. Not to mention the aggravation of the individual who is persistently misunderstood.
Distraction # 4: Lack of confidence
If you lack confidence, you’ll find it difficult to assert yourself while communicating. You’ll probably also be preoccupied with what the other person thinks rather than on the content of what they’re stating.
Hearing loss makes things worse, as you can imagine, because your misinterpretations could be perceived as a sign that you just don’t comprehend the message. If you’re regularly asking for clarification on simple points, it makes it difficult to feel confident enough to be assertive.
How hearing aids can help you
Coming to be a better communicator necessitates becoming a better listener, but how can you come to be a better listener if you have hearing loss? You have several choices, but because hearing aids have come so far in terms of recognizing and amplifying speech, they really are the perfect solution.
Modern digital hearing aids have a host of exceptional features made specifically for speech recognition. Many hearing aid models come with background noise suppression, directional microphones, and sophisticated digital processing so that speech comes through loud and clear.
Without needing to struggle to hear speech, you can focus all of your energy 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 prepared to start building distraction-free listening skills, book your hearing test today.