The workplace is one of the hardest places to negotiate hearing loss. After all, a lot rides on communication on the job, from staying in the loop and learning a new task to closing deals to connecting with your coworkers. Hearing loss doesn’t have to hold you back. Using hearing aids, assistive technology can help you stay on top of your job.
Learning to pick up nonverbal communication cues can also provide critical context for conversations. If you’ve struggled with hearing loss you have probably already picked up on some of these nonverbal signals that help you understand what is being said. To help hone your nonverbal perception skills, here are a few common unspoken signals it pays to recognize.
“I Understand” Signals
Whether you notice it or not, part of communication is a back and forth of signs that the people involved understand each other. Whether this is a head nod, small affirmative sounds like “mm-hmms” or a question for more information, the progress of a discussion depends on all parties feeling understood.
In language studies, these important subtle indicators are called “backchannels” and go a great way in determining the meaning and tone of verbal communication. Picking up on backchannel cues can make business conversations more fluid. If you rely on nonverbal cues, try using more physical signals in your own communication. A small head nod to show you understand someone not only contributes to clear communication, it models clear nonverbal behavior and often others will begin using similar cues.
“Ready To Speak” Signals
Whether you are in a casual conversation or a high-pressure meeting, it’s important to recognize when people have something to say. Everyone getting a chance to speak makes for a richer conversation. People who want to speak will lean forward or will show restlessness – signs like shifting in their seat or anxious behavior. With their eyes, they may scan the room quickly as they wait for the right time to contribute.
Depending on the setting, people may give you a small hand signal that they have something to say. Watching out for these signals can let you know where to shift your listening. If you are running a meeting, or are in charge of when people get to speak or ask questions, be sure to observe the others in the room carefully and make sure everyone gets the opportunity to contribute.
“Asking A Question” Signals
Have you ever misinterpreted the meaning of a text message that lacked punctuation? Punctuation determines the meaning of what is written in a similar way to how physical cues shape the meaning of what is being said. Often in face-to-face communication we depend on reading subtle facial expressions to determine how someone intends to have what they say interpreted.
When someone is asking a question, their face will usually show it. Look for raised eyebrows, direct eye contact and perhaps a small tilt of their head to the side. Catching these cues can let you know that a person expects a response.
Practice Reading Expressions
An easy way to practice reading physical nonverbal signals is to study your own. Sit in front of a mirror and try acting out a conversation. Notice what your body does when you are expressing something you are happy or sad or anxious about. See what your face and posture look like when you embody different moods and scenarios. Pretend that you are impatient and see how your body movements look in comparison to when you are expressing contentedness.
You can also hone your observation skills through watching people on television and movies. Drama series that try to realistically portray a range of emotion will give you the opportunity to study how the actors convey the emotions they express in body language and gestures. See if you can turn down the volume on a program and still follow the plot through observing physical movements.
Treating hearing issues helps you stay ahead of the curve. Using hearing treatments like hearing aids and assistive devices lets you stay in the loop at work, at home and wherever you go.
You always want to get the most from your hearing. That’s why we are here to help. At Hearing Group we’ll help you connect with hearing solutions that work. Ready to learn more? Contact us today!