You “misunderheard” me.

That’s what my 6 year old son told me the other day when I fussed at him for something I thought he said to his sister. My husband and I laughed at the funny things kids say, and I knew this new word would be remembered for a long time. As I got to thinking, though, I came to the realization that “misunderhearing” happens every day, especially for the people who walk through an Audiologist’s office door.
Here are some active listening strategies to help you “misunderhear” less.
• Look at the person speaking to you, making sure you are in good lighting, seeing their face clearly and fully. (This might mean you need to put your glasses on.)
• If you have a “better” ear, make sure it is closer to the speaker, and try to be within 3 to 5 feet of a speaker.
• Be assertive. If you can’t hear what someone is saying, let them know. Don’t bluff and nod. Ask for clarification if you need it.
• Ask for written directions or instructions.
• Don’t get frustrated if you can’t hear every word, especially in a noisy environment. Remember that everyone struggles in noise.
• Be aware of the topic of conversation.
• Use visual and contextual clues to help fill in what you may miss.
• Let those around you know how they can help you hear better. For example, ask them not to put their hands in front of their mouth and to speak more slowly.
• Minimize distractions. Close the car window, shut the door at home if your neighbor is mowing their grass, turn the t.v. or radio down if you are trying to have a conversation.
• Use assistive listening devices, FM systems, or streamers when they are available. Many public places have devices that will help the hearing impaired.
• Chose wisely. Consider the restaurant’s noise rating before you make plans to dine out. If your favorite restaurant is noisy, try to go when it is not as busy, and ask for a booth versus a table.
• Don’t lose your sense of humor. If you are at ease with yourself, it will help those around you feel more comfortable.
These are just some strategies that will make it easier to interact with those around you. Rest assured that those around you want to be heard and will do what they can to make it easier for you to hear. No one likes to be “misunderheard.”

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