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We don’t need to tell you the symptoms of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a different kind of challenge: persuading someone you care about to get their hearing evaluated and treated.

But exactly how are you expected to get through to someone who denies there is even a problem, or that merely shrugs it off as “just part of getting old”?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as just telling them that they need their hearing tested. They won’t see the need, and you won’t get very far with threats, ultimatums, or other coercive tactics.

While it may seem like a hopeless situation, there are other, more subtle strategies you can employ. In fact, you can draw from the massive body of social scientific research that signifies which strategies of persuasion have been found to be the most consistently successful.

This means, you can use tested, researched, and validated persuasive techniques that have been shown to actually work. It’s worth a shot, right? And perusing the techniques might enable you to think of additional ideas.

With that in mind, the following are 6 scientifically tested techniques of persuasion and how you might use them to persuade a loved one to get their hearing tested:

1. Reciprocity

What it is:

The basic principle of reciprocity is simple: if someone does a favor for you, you’re powerfully motivated to return the favor for them.

How to use it:

Timing is everything. You plan on requesting your loved one to get their hearing examined at some point anyway, so why don’t you render the request soon after you’ve done something special for them?

2. Commitment and Consistency

What it is:

We all have a strong psychological need to think and behave consistently.

How to use it:

The trick is to begin with small commitments before making the final request. If you begin by ordering your loved one to get a hearing test, you likely won’t see much success.

Alternatively, ease into the subject by casually sharing an article on hearing loss and how widespread it is. Without mentioning their own personal hearing loss, get them to disclose that hearing loss is a more prominent problem than they had believed.

As soon as they concede to a few basic facts, it may be easier to discuss their own specific hearing loss, and they may be more likely to admit that they have a problem.

3. Social Proof

What it is:

We are inclined to think in terms of “safety in numbers.” We tend to conform to the crowd, and we assume that if a number of other people are doing something, it must be trusted or effective.

How to use it:

There are at minimum two ways to make use of this method. One way is to share articles on the many advantages of using hearing aids and how hearing aids heighten the quality of life for millions of individuals in the U.S. and across the world.

The second way to use the approach is to arrange a hearing test for yourself. Tell your loved one that you want to confirm the health of your own hearing, but that you would feel better if they went with you and had their own test.

4. Liking

What it is:

You’re more inclined to be persuaded by individuals you personally like than by either a stranger or by someone you dislike.

How to use it:

Enlist the assistance of people you know your loved one likes or respects. Try to find that one particular person whom your loved one consistently seems to respond to, and have that person talk about and recommend a hearing test.

5. Authority

What it is:

We are inclined to listen to and have respect for the feedback of those we perceive as authority figures.

How to use it:

Share articles on how celebrities, professional athletes, and other distinguished figures wear and benefit from hearing aids. You can also share articles from reputable sources that describe the advantages of having your hearing tested. For example, the World Health Organization recently published an article titled “1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss.”

6. Scarcity

What it is:

Scarcity generates a sense of urgency when what we want is perceived as limited or in short supply. Scarcity creates the perception that, if we don’t act promptly, we may lose something on a permanent basis.

How to use it:

The latest research has connected hearing loss to a great number of dangerous conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, memory impairment, and accelerated cognitive decline. Hearing loss also gets worse as time passes, so the earlier it’s dealt with, the better.

To employ scarcity, share articles, such as our previous blog post titled 8 reasons hearing loss is more dangerous than you think, with your loved one. Show them that every day spent with untreated hearing loss exacerbates the hearing loss, deteriorates health, and increases the risk of developing more dangerous conditions.

If all else fails, just give it to them straight. Describe to your loved ones how their hearing loss affects you, in conjunction with how it’s impacting your relationship. When you make it about your needs and feelings rather than theirs, the response is usually better.

Have you had success persuading someone to have their hearing tested? Let us know your approach in a comment.


The six principles of persuasion were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and can be found in his book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”