Conquering Communication Breakdowns Caused by Dining

Conquering Communication Breakdowns Caused by Dining

Going out for a meal is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things you can do with family and friends. Not only do you get to enjoy a delicious plate of food, but you also get to have meaningful conversations with those closest to you.

If you're hard of hearing, you might have difficulties communicating at the dining table. Whether you're eating dinner out, having a big meal at home for the holidays, or just going about the usual dinner routine at home, communicating can be difficult.

With dining, especially in large, busy restaurants, it can be hard to understand and keep up with the conversation due to the volume of background noise and the number of people trying to talk to you and others at your table.

This can leave a negative impact on your impression of dining out. But with our easy tips, you can conquer communication breakdowns caused by dining and get back to having clear, enjoyable conversations.

Today we'll go through some tips you can use to improve communication while dining with hearing loss. We'll also provide guidance for both the speaker and the listener so everybody can contribute to making communication easier for the person who has hearing loss. 

How to improve communication while dining with hearing loss 

You can make communicating over the dining table a lot easier, but changing your environment is the best way to improve your communication and make it easier to enjoy your meal as a person with hearing loss.

Modifying the environment and reducing background noise is exactly what you should do to make communicating easier. But, if you're eating out at restaurants, there is a lot of background noise, and little you can do to change it.

Most restaurant background noise is low-pitched, too, whereas most hearing losses are high-pitched. This means it's incredibly difficult for people with hearing loss to communicate because they can't pick up what's being said.

Unfortunately, you can't modify the environment like you can if you're eating at home, but with some smart choices, you can limit background noise, even in a public restaurant.

Here are three things you can do to make dining out easier for somebody with hearing loss.

1. Choose the right time

You can choose when and where to eat out in order to suit the needs of somebody with hearing loss. Generally, the best time to go out for food is between 2-4 pm when it’s usually quieter, so you'll be able to listen more effectively.

Conquering Communication Breakdowns Caused by Dining

2. Opt for a private room

Some restaurants also have smaller rooms that are easier to hear than one large dining hall. You can sometimes request a small, private space when you visit a restaurant.

This way, you'll be closed off from any of the other restaurant patrons, making it easier for you to communicate with your friends and family.

3. Find a quiet seat

Another great way to modify your dining environment is to choose a quiet booth or a table in the corner. Getting a seat with good lighting so you can see people's faces is also advised.

You might have to wait a while for one of these tables to become available or book one in advance, but being able to communicate more clearly will be worth the wait!

Tips for the listener when communicating while dining

Noisy restaurants are a challenging listening situation, which will require a lot of active listening and effort on your part.

Here are a few tips for the listener to consider when dining in a noisy restaurant. By using these tips, you'll be able to make communication a whole lot easier for you and your communication partner.

  • Take a look at the menu and the specials ahead of time so you're prepared to order.
  • Look out for visual cues when communicating to make it easier on yourself. 
  • Try to follow one conversation at a time, or you might end up confused.
  • Sit next to the person you want to talk to the most.
  • If you've only just started wearing hearing aids, you'll notice that the background noises of dishes, silverware, and other patrons will make it very difficult to focus on the conversation at your table. This will improve once  you get used to your hearing aids. 
  • Try to put your full attention into the conversation at your table. This will allow you to retrain your brain to ignore background noises. Making it easier to listen with your hearing aid. 
Conquering Communication Breakdowns Caused by Dining

Tips for the speaker when communicating while dining

The listener isn't the only person who should work on their communication while dining. As the speaker, you should also do your best to make the conversation as easy as possible for the person who has hearing loss.

Here are a few tips on how to help the listener when communicating in busy restaurants:

  • Let the listener choose a seat that helps them listen the easiest 
  • Advise the listener to sit with their better ear toward you or back to the background noise if they have directional hearing aids
  • When dining with a group, try to keep side conversations to a minimum 
  • Check in frequently to see if the listener needs any clarification
  • Don't talk with anything obscuring your mouth like a napkin 
  • Discuss the menu ahead of time in case they need some assistance when ordering
  • Don't change the topic unless you've told the listener beforehand

We hope these tips have helped you and your listening partner figure out how to communicate better while dining.

If you'd like to learn more tips about avoiding communication breakdowns, read our blogs about communication breakdowns at home, on the phone, and in the car.

If you're interested in learning more about how to conquer communication breakdowns caused by hearing loss, get in touch with us. We'd love to answer your questions. 

If you think you or a loved one is struggling with hearing loss, schedule a hearing test at The Hearing Solution in Sacramento: Click here or call 916-646-2471.

Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.

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