The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. A little while later you realize your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Crazy how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.
We have the tendency to view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.
It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some studies.
How people are socialized does provide some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is likely another major factor. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s likely not that shocking.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are a sign of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be very hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? 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 gradually decline because of this. You hardly notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
The people around you will most likely be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common aggravation (even more aggravating when you already feel as if no one listens to you). But that frustration often turns to worry when they recognize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.
And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.
It’s important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply irritated with you.
Other early indications of hearing loss
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 a few of those signs:
- Consonants are hard to distinguish
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Wear ear protection
Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.
In most circumstances 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 may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing assessed.