Following a conversation in a noisy restaurant can be a challenge for those who have normal hearing.  But when you have hearing loss, the clanging dishes, music, and voices in a large open area can make hearing when dining out nearly impossible.  In Zagat’s 2014 America’s Top Restaurants Survey, a noisy restaurant is the #1 complaint from diners, even over bad service.  But these 7 tips will help you make your next night out on the town more enjoyable!

  1.  If you have a choice between a table or a booth, pick a booth.  If the restaurant only has tables, then try to sit at a round table instead of a square one.  Sitting in a corner rather than in the middle of the restaurant will also help.
  2. If you are dining with a larger group, avoid sitting at the ends of the table.  It is very difficult to hear from one end to the other so try to sit in the middle.   Be realistic.  You are not going to hear everyone, so sit next to people you like!
  3. Don’t sit near the kitchen, bar or the hostess area.  The ambient noise from these locations will be distracting.
  4. Look above you.  Are you sitting directly under the air condition fan or music speaker?  Loud music is not your friend.  If you ask, sometimes the restaurant will agree to turn the volume down if you explain.
  5. If your hearing aids have directional microphones (two microphones instead of one), put the greatest amount of background noise behind you.  Directional microphones are designed to reduce sounds from the side and the rear and focus on sounds in front of you.  Think of it this way, directional microphones will focus your hearing aids wherever your nose is pointing.  So if you are facing into a noisy restaurant, the directional microphones will be focusing on the greatest amount of background noise.  That is not good!  When your hearing aids have directional microphones, the best spot to sit in is the one that will put room noise behind you.
  6. Look at the person who is talking.  When you are in a challenging listening situation, like a restaurant, you are going to need to use some visual cues.
  7. Pick your seat!  Don’t be afraid to tell the hostess that where you sit will make a difference on how much you enjoy your meal.   Calling ahead and telling the hostess where you need to sit will avoid a long wait once you get there.


Cheers and Happy Hearing,

Dr. Shannon Gibbons