Communication Strategies For The Holiday Season

Heading into the season of celebrations and multiple group functions can be daunting, especially if you have trouble hearing in noisy situations. Although it might not be easy, here are some tips you can take with you to those holiday gatherings. These will not only help you catch more of the conversations going on around you, but allow you to partake in the festivities and fun!

For the party givers:

Start by setting up your party so that your guests are sitting in a round formation or at a round table. This enables everyone to see the faces of whoever is talking. Whether you read lips or not, seeing the face of the speaker will provide additional visual cues like body language and facial expressions to help you follow what’s being said.

Also consider having a separate room designed to accommodate a quieter setting. This will be suitable for those who want to have one-to-one conversations, or just don’t appreciate a lot of noise.

As for background music, aim to keep it at a low level so it doesn’t interfere with regular conversation levels.

For tableware, consider using disposable paper plates and plastic cutlery to keep down the clink and clatter (which can add to background noise levels). Also, if your home has hard surface areas and high ceilings, consider “softening” the room with fabric drapes, tablecloths, and area rugs to temper the reverberant factors in the room.

Lastly, offer to play group games that require the use of body language, gestures, and visual cues that everyone can take part of (i.e. charades). Also try to use a well-lit room to ensure everyone can see well.

For the party goers:

If possible, place yourself in a quieter area where it’s easer to hear conversations (i.e. seated with a wall behind you versus in the middle of the room where noise is coming from all directions). Or choose to chat in a separate room completely.

Lighting is also key, so aim to stay away from dark corners where it may be hard to see people’s faces and harder to pick-up on visual cues.

For sit-down situations like dinner, partner with someone that you usually hear easily and who doesn’t mind to fill in the blanks for pieces of conversation you might have missed.

Most importantly, be an advocate for yourself! When chatting with others, feel free to let them know that you would love to hear what they have to say, and even though you may be wearing a hearing device, it would be helpful if they could speak a bit louder and more clearly. You can also always talk to your party host ahead of time to see if they can assist you in anyway. People will always love to help!

Enjoy and happy holidays!

Kim Ryll, BC-HIS, RHAP