Tips for hearing your best in a noisy restaurant

If you have a hearing loss, you will know that hearing in noisy environments is difficult. Unfortunately, over recent years, restaurants have become very noisy. They are filled with noise from patrons, kitchens and music, and have lots of hard reflective surfaces that make the noise bounce around. While restaurants may be difficult environments to hear in, they can also be an important part of our social lives and social connections. These are our top 10 tips to hearing your best in a noisy restaurant.

1. Pick the Restaurant

Some restaurants are noisier than others. Picking a restaurant that is quieter will make it easier to communicate. Things that can make a restaurant quieter include:

  • Having the kitchen separate rather than an open plan set-up where it adjoins the eating area
  • Having soft furnishing such as carpet, tablecloths and curtains. These soft surfaces absorb the sounds rather than reflect them making for a quieter dining experience.
  • Not playing loud music
  • Not having the tables too close together.

2. Pick your time

Consider booking the restaurant for a time when it is less busy and therefore quieter – maybe an early or late lunch or dinner.

3. Pick the table

Once you have chosen your restaurant, there are also often places within the restaurant that are quieter and easier to hear than others. When picking or booking the table, you ideally want somewhere that is at the edge and away from the kitchen, play areas, the door, the cash register/counter and any speakers playing music.

4. Pick your spot at the table

Consider the spot at the table that will be easiest for you to hear. If you hear better in one ear than another, then have your good ear facing inwards. Position yourself so you can see the faces of the people you are talking too – preferably with the light on their faces. Be aware of anyone who may have a quiet voice and position yourself where you can best hear them.

5.  Swap seats

If you are dining with a large group, swap seats over the course of the night so you can talk to everyone without having to hear someone down the other end of the table.

6. Use the technology

If you have hearing aids, make sure you wear them. Also make sure the batteries are changed or charged and any other parts that might need changing – such as wax guards – are changed before you go. You could also talk to your audiologist about whether there are other types of technologies, such as remote microphones or Roger systems that could help you in these situations.

7. Look for the specials board

Often the server in a restaurant will tell you what the specials are. It can be a good idea to look for the specials board so you can read the specials rather than listen to them, as unfamiliar terms can be particularly tricky to hear.

8. Ask if you haven’t heard

It can be tempting in a restaurant environment to simply nod and agree even if you have not heard what was said. This can lead to social isolation. If you didn’t hear what was said, ask for clarification so you can stay connected to the conversation.

9. Be rested and relax

Often easier said than done but try and relax. The more stressed you are the less mental energy you have to spend on listening. Similarly, if you are tired it is hard to find the energy needed to listen in a noisy restaurant, so make sure you are well rested before you go.

10. Have a buddy

Having a listening buddy that can help you if you have not heard something, or are unaware that someone is talking to you, can also make dining at a restaurant easier. This could be a partner or friend who is a familiar speaker for you. Sit them near you so they are ready to help if needed.

Using the above tips will allow you to hear your best in a noisy restaurant. But it is also important that your hearing loss is assessed by a hearing professional and, if appropriate, that you are fitted with hearing aids. Book an appointment for a hearing test today with Hearing Aid Specialists SA 08 8267 2555 or contact us online.