Laura L. Brady, AuD, CCC-A | Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center
Many of our social interactions revolve around going out to eat; sharing a meal and time with friends and family. But, enjoying a quiet restaurant dining experience may seem nearly impossible. Trying to hold a conversation, hear others talking at your table or, hear and understand the wait-staff and hostess in noisy restaurants can prove challenging – even for normal hearing individuals. If you are hearing impaired it becomes exponentially worse.
Below are some tips that will help everyone to hear better in a restaurant setting – whether you have normal hearing, are hearing impaired, and whether or not you wear hearing aids:
- Day of the week and time of day can make a big difference. Dining on weekdays versus weekends means restaurant traffic is lighter, and will likely have fewer people seated near you. Therefore, 5:00 pm on a Tuesday would be much quieter than 7:00 pm on a Saturday.
- Group size. A group of up to four people at a table is more manageable than larger groups. The larger the party, the more likely multiple conversations may be happening at the same time – causing more noise and confusion.
- Table seating. Sitting directly across the table from the person you are most likely to be talking to allows for both improved hearing signals and the support of visual cues.
- Table placement. When making a reservation (or arriving at the hostess stand) request a table in a quiet area, preferably away from the kitchen, bar and restrooms – areas that are likely to have more traffic, and therefore, more noise.
- Booth versus table. Booths are generally better than tables as they offer more privacy and, generally, some degree of soundproofing.
- The perimeter of a dining room will generally be less reverberant. Ask for a table near a wall or window and sit so that the noise is behind you – you should face the wall or window. This is particularly true if you are using hearing aids with directional microphone technology.