The main goal of this session is to familiarize participants with communication strategies that they can use with communication partners such as family, friends, coworkers, and anyone else they interact with.
- Follow-up on last session
- Introduce communication strategies
- Introduce repair strategies
- Group activity: Brainstorm repair strategies
In the previous session, group members were asked to think of topics they would like to know more about. Take a few moments to ask group members if they have thought of any questions since you last met.
Introduce communication strategies
It is important for both the people with hearing loss and the partners they bring with them to the session to learn strategies that will make communicating easier. Practicing how to prevent and solve communication breakdowns in the supportive environment of an aural rehabilitation group increases the likelihood that group members will employ the strategies in everyday life.
Here are some general tips you can share to improve communication:
- Watch the speaker
- If you don’t understand, ask for clarification by repeating the information you heard
- Place yourself at a good distance, not too close and not too far
- Be assertive: For example, ask for repetition, identify the part of the sentence you need repeated, or suggest moving the conversation to a quieter place
- If you’re in a noisy room, suggest moving somewhere quieter
Both the person with hearing loss and the people they communicate with are responsible for improving communication situations. When someone speaks too softly or quickly, covers their mouth, or turns their head away, it can make it difficult to understand what’s been said. But if the person with hearing loss responds to the person speaking to them with a broad comment like, “I didn’t get what you said,” the speaker won’t understand why they were difficult to hear.
Introduce repair strategies
Repair strategies refer to actions and ideas that can fix a communication breakdown once it has occurred. Everyday communication breakdowns require people with hearing loss to come up with solutions at a moment's notice. To use repair strategies, Kaplan, Bally and Garretson recommend focusing on specifics. By focusing on what was not understood, or why it was difficult for the person with hearing loss to understand, the person speaking has more information about what they can do differently.
Discuss with group members how they can provide detailed responses to help the person they are speaking modify their behavior. Some examples include:
- Could you say that a bit more slowly?
- It helps if I can see your lips
- Please speak a little bit louder
- Please face me when you're speaking
- I didn't get the first part of what you said
- Did you say…? I want to make sure I heard you correctly
- Could you rephrase the last sentence?
- Can we go into the hallway where it’s quieter?
Brainstorm repair strategies with the group. Problems are often best solved when a variety of techniques are employed, so make sure everyone in the room contributes an idea. You can go around the room and ask each member to offer a strategy or group members can jump in when they have an idea to offer. Write down the strategies on a flip chart so that group members can see all of the suggestions.
It is important to encourage group members to share their tips. Write down all strategies, even if they aren’t exactly what you asked for.