Slow Down, You Talk Too Fast

By Georgia Hearing Center

Hearing is an essential human sense. It allows us to communicate with our family, friends and coworkers, to share our ideas, our thoughts and our feelings. It is through our hearing that we learn how to speak, how to understand language and how to read. The ability to successfully converse with others is critical to one’s image as a competent human being.
The concept of success in conversation is largely taken for granted and the ability to hear well is given little thought until it is compromised. So when someone says “I think my hearing is getting worse,” it can mean a change in hearing sensitivity or for understanding speech in quiet. Another common complaint is “I just can’t keep up when people talk fast.”
Living in this fast-paced world, we are bombarded with information and entertainment, and sometimes it comes to us at a rapid-fire pace. Ordinary speech occurs at about 150 words a minute, but some people talk at more than 225 words a minute. That means we’re trying to understand almost four words a second!
Difficulty understanding rapid speech is one of the most common hearing complaints of older adults – including those with normal hearing. The problem may be related to reduced memory abilities and an age-related decrease in the efficiency of our nervous system. This difference is seen in adults even in their 40s.
While rapid speech is difficult for older adults with normal-hearing, it becomes easier to understand when there are occasional pauses in the speech. For anyone over the age of 50, communication is improved if the speaker uses pauses and phrases to allow the listener to ‘catch up’.
Of course, understanding rapid speech is more difficult if you have a hearing loss. Most people with hearing loss say that understanding fast speech is harder than understanding soft speech. Based on these findings, then, you should ask the speakers around you to:

  • Get my attention before you speak to me
  • Speak at a normal rate
  • (Speaking slowly is not helpful; just don’t speak fast)
  • Use pauses
  • Face me when you talk to me

These simple steps should make life a little easier for you and for the people around you. If you feel your hearing is getting worse, we recommend you consult with your physician to discuss the option of having a hearing test through an Audiologist.


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Georgia Hearing Center
Chosen Best Hearing Center 11 Years In A Row
150 Nacoochee Avenue, Athens • 706-546-5689

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