You asked for help with one basic chore: take the trash out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Curious how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is breaking down.
This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a sort of character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing may actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve probably been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that particular term. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That sort of thing.
As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. However, most studies point to men failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.
How people are socialized does give some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Communication will definitely be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s most likely not that shocking.
But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication issues.
When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there aren’t going to be a lot of apparent symptoms. Maybe you begin turning the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local bar. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
The people close to you will probably be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that frustration often becomes concern when they acknowledge that hearing loss might be the real culprit.
So, your partner may suggest you set up a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.
It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just annoyance.
Early hearing loss has a few other indicators
You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are some of those signs:
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Turning the volume up on your devices
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
- People sound far-away or muted when they talk
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Use ear protection
Safeguarding your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.
In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing checked.