With the economic gyrations we’ve seen of late, the days of the business lunch are quickly going the way of the rotary dial telephone. Even so, negotiations are undertaken, statements of work created and contracts signed on the linen table cloths of local high-end watering holes everyday. But what if you only got 48% of the conversation - is that enough upon which to make an important business decision? If you are missing half of what is being said, discussed, negotiated and agreed to, here are some hearing tips to keep you in the game while out on the town.
Hearing Tips For Noisy Restaurants
1. Pick your spot.
If you’re planning this sit-down, pick a quiet restaurant rather than the noisy bar and grille on the corner.
Select a restaurant with carpeting, heavy drapes and low ceilings. All of these accoutrements cut down on the echo effect that disrupts clear hearing (and clear thinking, an essential ingredient in the luncheon mix).
Also check the local restaurant reviews. Many cities are now implementing noise ratings in their reviews along with lighting. These ratings are great for those concerned of background noise and poor lighting.
2. Sit facing the client or person of interest.
This might take a little juggling for chairs but it’s important that you face the primary speaker head on. Even for persons with normal hearing, much of hearing in background noise is based on reading visual cues from lip movements so the clearer you can see the main speaker’s face the better.
Of course, avoid a game of musical chairs as your group is seated but get the best view you can.
3. Schedule the meeting after the lunch rush or before the dinner rush.
Fewer people, less noise - it's that simple.
4. Don’t nod in agreement if you didn’t hear what the client or provider said.
You may have just agreed to “a million dollar contract” when you “heard” a “fill-in contact.” Don’t be afraid ask for clarification – they will appreciate that more than you being misinformed.
5. Ask to be seated in a well-lit area, facing away from sun streaming through the window.
Again, you want to see the speaker’s face clearly, not squint out the sunlight!
6. Wear two hearing aids instead of one.
First, some business people are reluctant to wear a hearing aid due to a hearing aid myth that is so yesteryear - hearing aids are associated with “brokenness” and “old age” (like old age is a bad thing). In today's society, hearing aids now make you look dedicated, sophisticated, plugged-in and cool.
Hearing aids come in an assortment of types and some are virtually invisible, like the CIC hearing aid (completely in the ear canal). Even BTE hearing aids (behind the ear) have become trendy with new sleek and discreet designs. In fact, many persons with hearing loss are purchasing hearing aids that have color and attitude – candy-apple red and leopard prints.
Wearing two hearing aids can double your hearing power and help localize sound. Sound localization is the ability to pinpoint the source of a sound and to do that, you need to hear with two ears. It’s called binaural hearing and it’s the natural way our brains are wired to hear.
7. Go high-tech with wireless connectivity.
Most of us experience withdrawal symptoms when separated from our cell phones, PDAs and other digital gear.
Problem solved with wireless hearing aid technology. First, this wireless connectivity turns your hearing aids into wireless receivers, picking up cell calls and Bluetooth transmissions. In other words, you can call HQ for approval on contract clause (2d) before signing. And without yanking out your hearing aid to avoid feedback blowback. Today’s digital hearing aids eliminate feedback with sophisticated digital technology and many are able to interface with Bluetooth compatible phones.
But wireless can work in another important way. When you wear two hearing aids with wireless connectivity (available on higher end models) this enables the two devices to send and receive sound data to each other. The two ears (or hearing aids) are able to process the incoming sounds together to ensure accurate amplification and reduction in surround background noise (just like our brains used to).
8. FM Technology.
For some people with more severe hearing loss, hearing aids may not always be enough in a large group meeting where there are multiple sources that need to be heard, especially in noisy restaurants. FM technology has arrived.
Personal FM systems, often referred to as assistive listening devices, consist of a small, FM transmitter microphone that is used by the speaker or placed in the center of the restaurant table and a receiver worn by you. The receiver will transmit the sound directly to your hearing aids either by direct audio input or by a looped cord around your neck.
Your hearing aid must be equipped to pick up the FM signal. Discuss this further with your hearing care professional to determine if your hearing aids are equipped and if you do not have hearing aids yet, mention this as something you may want to utilize.
9. Check your hearing aids before the meeting.
You might make manual adjustments to volume and check your hearing aid batteries Most hearing aids these days will alert you when your hearing aid battery is close to being drained, so be sure to carry a spare or two with you at all times. This will ensure you are never disconnected from the communication grid due to a power outage.
10. Finally, don’t stress.
Hearing difficulties in a restaurant and business meeting can be stressful for many – even for persons with normal hearing! Staying calm will ensure your mind is staying on task and taking all the necessary steps to improve your ability to hear. Stress can affect personality and you need to be on top of your game when a big deal is going down. Breathe. Smile. Be your own advocate. Be honest. Be prepared. And most importantly, enjoy the food!