by Jeannie Taylor

Sauce Bottle When you think about the word ‘anticipation’, what pops into your mind?  My mind races to a 1971 hit song which was sung by Carly Simon, “Anticipation”, or sometimes remembered by a different audience as “The Ketchup Song”. The song was sung during a Heinz Ketchup TV ad where two young friends were patiently waiting for the thick, rich ketchup to pour slowly from the bottle onto their hamburgers.  Whatever thoughts come to your mind when thinking about the word, they are most likely associated with enthusiasm or pleasure.

Robin Skynner, a psychiatric pioneer and innovator in the field of treating mental illness, defined anticipation in a different way.  In his book, Life and How to Survive It (London 1994), Skynner considered anticipation as one of “the mature ways of dealing with real stress… You reduce the stress of some difficult challenge by anticipating what it will be like and preparing for how you are going to deal with it”.   At this point, you may be asking yourself what anticipation has to do with hearing loss.

According to Gallaudet University’s Hearing and Speech Center, communication strategies are a tremendous aid to communication if you are a person with hearing loss.  One of four main strategies identified is Anticipatory Strategies.  What are they?  Anticipatory Strategies are anything an individual does to prepare for a given communication situation prior to the event.

In their book, Communication Therapy:  An Integrated Approach to Aural Rehabilitation, authors Mary J. Moseley and Scott J. Bally identified three examples of Anticipatory Strategies:  Environment, Interpersonal, and Linguistic.  Let’s spend some time looking more closely at each area.

Environment:  There are four areas of consideration when assessing and modifying environments to meet communication needs:  vision, audition, spatial relationships, and comfort.  For example:

Vision—Adequate lighting, Reduce or eliminate visual noise (distracting movements) such as TV, active pets, too many people, busy environment

Audition—Reduce or eliminate environmental sounds (e.g. traffic, background music).  Using absorbent materials such as draperies, carpets, and acoustic tiles may help to dampen noise.

Spatial Relationships—Unobstructed view of one another (consider furniture arrangement, etc.)

Comfort—Comfortable temperature, seating, and number of participants at a communication event

Interpersonal:  Interpersonal relationships are defined as strong, deep, or close associations or acquaintances between two or more people.  These relationships are social connections we have with others.  It is possible that a person with hearing loss may ask those closer to them to make modifications in order to improve communication.  For example:

 Ask speakers to modify their appearance if there are issues such as an untrimmed mustache, gum chewing, eating, smoking, or obscured mouth.  Speech behavior relative to communication may be modified as well especially if the person with whom you are in conversation with talks too fast, slow, loud, soft, mumbles, has an accent, or doesn’t move their lips.

 Linguistic:  These strategies are those the person with hearing loss develops or selects that utilize language (i.e. vocabulary, language sequence) and language structure to effect more successful communication in the absence of adequate auditory input.  For example:

Anticipate vocabulary by predicting the communication situation such as job interview, communication with dentist, doctor, banker, etc.

Having knowledge of communication strategies and the ability to use them has value and helps the person with hearing loss to be ready for a variety of communication encounters.  Having some idea of how to adjust your environment, interpersonal needs, and linguistic situations is essential to successful communication.  Good communication doesn’t just happen if you have hearing loss.  We have to anticipate, prepare, and implement the strategies we acquire.

Suppose you land a job interview and have concerns about how your hearing loss will impact your performance during the interview.  You can anticipate the questions you may be asked by getting a sense of who the company is prior to your interview.  Take time to become familiar with their products and services, so that when the interviewer talks to you about these things, you are prepared and have a good understanding beforehand.  This is an example of predicting the vocabulary that may be used which is a linguistic anticipatory modification.

Anticipation largely involves your ability to take action in advance to help increase your level of success in the communication cycle!

 For your consideration:

  • Identify one or more of the three components of Anticipatory Strategies (environment, interpersonal, linguistic) to develop for personal use during communication encounters. Implement one of the strategies and afterwards, evaluate your success or lack of success using the strategy.  Share your results with other readers.
  • Now that you know what Anticipatory Strategies are, teach one or more of them to another person with hearing loss!

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