March 10, 2022

We all know that we hear with our ears, but did you know we listen with our brains? Our ears hear the noises and sounds, but our brains translate those sounds so we can understand them. The good news is that with just a little effort you can train your brain in active listening to develop your communication skills.

Do You Communicate Effectively?

Good listening skills are vital to effective communication. Hearing aids are great and can help a lot if your ears are not picking up sound in your environment, but they don’t improve your listening skills.

To listen and communicate, our brains have to be able to interpret the sounds we are exposed to. Listening issues result from hearing loss because the brain doesn’t get all of the necessary information.

Fortunately, it’s possible to train your brain to listen, and this can improve your brain’s health and plasticity which can result in better communication.

Hearing is Not the Same as Listening

Hearing is simply accepting sound and recognizing it is there but listening involves interpretation and understanding. If you hear an sound you don’t recognize, like a bang or a clatter, your instinct is to turn your head to figure out what it is and where it’s coming from. This instinct relies only on hearing ability and is called signal-based processing. To actually listen, however, you have to be able to both hear and understand.

Listening is hearing sounds and understanding the message. When hearing is disrupted, listening can be affected but there is something you can do about it.

Strategies to Improve Listening Skills

As we age, the difference between listening and hearing becomes more apparent. We may hear what is being said but it may be more challenging to understand the message. Fortunately, we can improve our listening skills with training and the right tools. Training helps us to build our minds and stretch our brains, as well as listen more effectively.

As you train your brain, keep a few things in mind:

  • Make use of technology!
  • Use good communication approaches with family and friends.
  • Let others know it helps you if they articulate more clearly when speaking
  • Watching closed-captioned or subtitled movies can help train your brain to listen
  • Understand what hearing devices can and cannot help you achieve

Hearing aids can be helpful with transmitting the sound to your brain. Using that tool and then taking advantage of the therapies and exercises, you can improve your listening skills and prevent any deterioration. Other options are cognitive and auditory training which can help to engage the brain and increase plasticity that can enhance and strengthen listening skills.

A few things that can help train our brains to actively listen are watching TV with closed captions, reading along with audiobooks, or reading along with a friend or family member as they read a book or magazine aloud. To make it even more challenging, try these exercises with some background noise like a TV or conversation to train your brain to focus in on the sounds you want to hear.

The first step to improving your listening skills is to recognize the issue. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.

Diablo Hearing Services   2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon CA94583  (925) 394-4646

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