How to Handle Group Conversations with Hearing Loss

Two elderly men having a conversation


One of the great challenges of age-related hearing loss is that it often makes it more difficult to adapt to life with hearing loss. While this type of hearing loss often occurs gradually, you likely still remember what it was like to carry a conversation with ease.

With hearing loss, however, carrying a conversation often becomes less appealing. What’s more, as you get older, you will likely have even more trouble with your hearing, which makes communicating with others even more challenging. This often makes not only one-on-one conversations difficult, but group conversations seem hopeless.

Whether you have age-related hearing loss, or any hearing loss type for that matter, group conversations are likely something you try to avoid. Between the multiple voices chiming in at once, to missing so much information that nothing seems to make sense, group conversations often become more unpleasant than enjoyable.

The good news is that there are coping strategies available to make those frustrating situations a little bit easier. For your convenience, here are 10 tips for better handling group conversations when you have hearing loss.  

1. For events, request closed-captioning or notes.

When attending an event, it can be helpful to arrive early and request closed-captioning or notes. More and more organizations are becoming accommodating of hard-of-hearing guests and are happy to offer you the resources you need.

If the hosting organization wasn’t prepared to offer accommodations, it will remind them to be prepared in the future. Just think of the situation as an opportunity you took to be an advocate for others with hearing loss.  

2. Choose a seat near the main speaker.

Whether it be an event or a meeting, there’s likely someone who will be delivering the most dialogue. With this in mind, it can be helpful to sit as close to the main speaker as possible, which may mean sitting in the front row or grabbing the nearest chair at the table.

With a better view of the speaker, you can not only hear the speaker better but can also utilize visual queues that will aid in better understanding what he or she is saying, from reading their lips to watching their facial expressions.

3. Ask a friend to fill in the gaps you miss.

From a family gathering to a work meeting, you’ll want to join in on the conversation and catch all of the latest updates. To ensure that you do, you can ask a friend, family member, or coworker to be your second set of ears.

This person can help to fill in anything you might miss during the get-together. Whether it’s during the conversation, or afterwards, knowing that you can ask someone about what was discussed will help to ensure that you are on the same page as everyone else.

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4. Purchase a transcribing pen for better note-taking.

Sometimes, it’s beneficial to have a little extra help. Especially if you regularly attend important events or meetings, you may need a consistent buddy to act as your second set of ears. Instead of asking a person to play that role, you can use a transcribing pen (or smart pen).

While you take notes, these special pens can record the audio of the person speaking. Most transcribing pens also come with a computer program that allows you to review your notes and re-listen to the dialogue that occurred while you were writing.

5. Find someone to take notes for you.

If you suffer from a more significant level of hearing loss, you may need more than a transcribing pen to ensure that you get the information you need. In that case, you may benefit from asking someone to be your notetaker.  

With a notetaker, you can relax and feel confident in the fact that you’ll have the correct information for review later. Depending on what situations you need a notetaker for, keep in mind that many organizations offer assistive services for people like you.

6. Remind the group NOT to talk over one another.

In many discussions, people compete for center stage and, as a result, talk over one another. If following a group conversation wasn’t difficult already, competing speech can certainly add another layer of difficulty into the mix.  

During a meeting or family gathering, gently remind attendees to avoid talking over one another. Remember, those without hearing loss may not realize how difficult they are making hearing the conversations for you.  

7. Ask people to raise their hand before speaking.

There’s a reason we rose our hands to speak in class in grade schooland it's not only because it’s the polite thing to do. It makes it easier to hear the person speaking. Requiring people to raise their hands slows down the flow of the conversation and forces other members of the group to wait for the next person to raise their hand.

If you have a more significant hearing loss, or your friends just can’t seem to hold back from talking over one another, asking each speaker to raise their hand may be the best solution.

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8. Turn off any additional sources of background noise.

Competing voices alone can present an issue, but additional background noise, namely the television or music, can make things even worse.

To bypass this issue, you may consider requesting that any additional sources of noise be turned off, or at least turned down. In situations where background noise cannot be omitted, such as a restaurant, you can request seating in the quietest area of the event space.

9. Get a conference microphone.

If you are in the working world, or if you participate in any organizations that regularly hold meetings, you know that meetings can be a source of frustration when you’re hard of hearing. In many cases, people talk over each other or simply don’t talk loud enough.

While transcribing pens can be helpful for these situations, you may also consider getting a conference microphone, which can stream into speakers or your hearing aids (if you wear them). If this is for your workplace, your employer may be willing to purchase one for your organization.  

10. Wear a pair of hearing aids.

Above all of these tips, the best way to better hear group conversations is by wearing hearing aids. Today, most hearing aids come with a background noise reduction features that help you to better hone in on the sounds you want to hear, and drown out the ones you don’t.

How Can You Hear Better?

If you are considering wearing hearing aids, but are turned off by the high cost, no need to worry. At Advanced Affordable Hearing, our mission is to help people like you to hear better at a price you can afford. Because our hearing aids are pre-programmed, we can ship them directly to your door, and they’ll work for you right out of the box!

To get started on your journey to hearing better, simply visit our Online Hearing Check. This will help you to get a better sense of your level of hearing loss, so you can choose the perfect hearing aids for you!

For more information, you can contact us now.


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