It has been over a year since the pandemic began. While we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, protective measures such as masks are still widely worn even as vaccination ramps up across the country. As such, communication challenges are still a concern for many of us. Luckily, specialists over the last year have identified some solid suggestions to help both speakers and listeners, and we wanted to share their ideas with our patients.
Earlier this year, Bradley Kilgore (BFA), Cassandra Harriger (BSN, RN), Laura Gaeta (Ph.D.), and Tara A. Sharpp (Ph.D., RN) teamed up to write “Unmasking Misunderstandings: Strategies for Better Communication with Patients.” According to their research (as cited in Nursing 2021’s January edition), there are three ways a speaker can help the listener hear what they are saying:
- Use clear, deliberate speech.
- Face people when you are speaking.
- If possible, use a clear face mask.
If you are the listener, there are things you can do to help yourself and the speaker:
- Make sure you are ready to listen to the speaker.
- Keep in mind that your state of mind may affect your ability to take in muffled language.
- Do not indicate that you understand something if you did not. Ask for clarification.
- Repeat back what you think you heard to get confirmation from the speaker.
Your environment plays a part in speaking and listening as well:
- If you use a clear face mask, make sure the lighting in the room is good enough to interpret facial expressions and mouth morphemes through it.
- Do your best to limit background noise and distractions.
These are great recommendations that the audiologists at ESHC fully endorse for our patients. Let your audiologist know how well you communicate around masks at your next appointment. And remember, if you would like additional coaching or guidance, we are only a phone call or email away.