If you were giving someone advice on how to improve their relationships, what would you say? Some people would emphasize finding things you have in common, cultivating empathy, or learning about the other person’s personality traits or love languages. Each of these can be great ways to improve a relationship, but the most common advice that relationship experts will share is to work on better communication. The baseline of all these other kinds of relationship improvements is the ability to communicate. The meanings we share with others can’t be transmitted directly from one brain to the next. We need ways to share meaning with others that involve our senses.
Although it is possible to communicate with others using visual cues, tactile expression, or even the senses of taste and smell, the most common way to communicate is through sound. Spoken language is one of the most precise ways to express meaning with others, and we have developed precise use of tone, connotation, and verbal emphasis to get across the subtleties of what we need to say. With this power of human communication in mind, untreated hearing loss can become a serious impediment not only to our conversations but also to our relationships. Let’s take a moment to consider how treating hearing loss can have a marked effect on improving our relationships.
When we form emotional bonds with others, we get the sense that we are understood, valued, and cared for. These feelings are crucial to the experience of security in our closest relationships, but these feelings don’t always come about naturally. Although we can communicate care to others through our actions and through nonverbal communication, telling others how we feel is often the most direct and powerful way to make that connection.
When we communicate our feelings to others, we remove the guesswork over where we stand with one another. Those with hearing loss can sometimes feel isolated due to the lack of these emotional expressions. Getting treatment for hearing loss, on the other hand, makes it possible to share our feelings and to know that we are being heard.
Although the emotional content of our relationships might feel like the deepest aspect we experience, relationships are also built on the common everyday sharing of information, perspectives, humor, and opinions. When we are in the same place with others, we tend to voice our thoughts in off-the-cuff commentary. Though this aspect of communication might seem less important than the deep heart-to-heart conversations we have, it turns out that sharing causal perspectives and jokes is part of the comforting bond we have with others.
Knowing that someone is there to hear you when you need to share can provide a sense of belonging. When a person has untreated hearing loss, that feeling of ease and the natural expression of thinking can become strained and unnatural. It’s even possible to miss out on so much that frustration, miscommunication, and anxiety occur. However, when a person receives treatment for hearing loss, it becomes possible once again to have this casual sense of ease in communication.
Not only are our closest personal relationships improved by getting treatment for hearing loss, but our community connections with strangers and acquaintances can grow, as well. When we are out and about in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities, we form basic connections with others through speech, and the ability to share and respond to what others have to say can form a sense of community bonding, as well. Though those who are hearing impaired have a valued place in our communities, getting treatment for hearing loss is one way to build connections with strangers.
If you have a loved one who is in need of treatment for hearing loss, one way to talk about that need is to share how your relationship can improve. When you mention the potential for relationship improvement, your loved one might notice how your connection has become strained through miscommunication. The ability to communicate your deepest feelings and your casual commentary on life can be a great way to reconnect with your loved one once hearing aids or another form of assistance are in place.