Better Hearing or Better Listening?

Hearing is a critically important sense for typical development of speech and language which carries us through the formative years of learning and socializing so unique to humankind.  Loss of hearing can come from illness, heredity, noise exposure, among a variety of other causes.  As we mature and approach retirement age, Age Related Hearing Loss is a very common cause of hearing loss and can impact our ability to easily communicate and continue the social life we have enjoyed.

Better Hearing Month is a time to consider prevention of hearing loss, how to recognize when we may be affected by it, and what to do about it when it interferes with the quality of our lives.  It is also a time to think about how to actively engage our ears and brains to hear and comprehend the spoken word.  Better Listening doesn’t cost anything, is cosmetically acceptable, doesn’t need batteries, and can markedly improve our ability to communicate.

“D.A.R.E.” to Listen Better!

Follow these simple steps to be a better listener:

Direct your focus: Listening is an active process and requires purposeful direction of our attention to what is being said by our conversation partners. Keep your mind on the conversation and stay engaged.  Look directly at the speaker to provide visual feedback that you are listening. 

Ask for repetition or rephrasing (with a smile.) Give others some feedback: “I heard ‘pink banana’ what did you really say?”

Read the face: If in a situation where protective masks are required, it is “eyebrow guessing” instead of speechreading but there is still information in the full frontal visual.

Exit an impossibly unfavorable environment.  Some situations are acoustically hostile making it impossible to hear, even when following all the rules.  Learn to recognize those situations and move to a better, quieter place.

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