Take control in any listening situation

When someone isn’t speaking clearly, remember this technique

Even with your Cochlear™ Implant System or Baha® Sound Processor, it can be difficult to have a conversation with someone if they don’t speak clearly. That can be even worse if they are standing further away, facing a different direction, or if they are wearing a scarf or face cover.

The good thing is, in most cases, they will be only too happy to help, if you tell them how. And, confidently asking for what you need is a great life skill for everyone, with or without hearing loss.

This simple technique is a handy way to ask for the help you need.


Make the person aware of your situation, that you hear with a CI or Baha System. This helps them understand that you can hear, but differently. (Tip: sometimes people forget that young people can have hearing loss, so it’s a good place to start.)

Example: “I can hear you, but I use a cochlear implant because I have hearing loss.”


Give details about how the current situation is making it hard for you to understand them.  For example, there may be background noise, a bigger distance so that you can’t see their face clearly or their voice may be muffled by a face covering. (Tip: no-one likes to feel criticised, so try to explain in a way that doesn’t seem like they are doing something wrong.)

Example: “I love the music in here, but it makes it hard for me to understand when you are speaking.”


Ask them to do something differently. This may be as simple as turning to face you, or speaking more slowly. Perhaps it would help if they point to what they are talking about. The more specific you can be, the better.

Example: “It would help if you face me directly and speak more slowly. Also, could you point to the menu item that you are talking about?”

If you are struggling, remember 123 – 1 tell, 2 explain, 3 ask.

For more support in difficult listening situations, check out our rehabilitation resources 

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Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.

Views expressed are those of the individual. Consult your health professional to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology.

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