The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. A little while later you discover your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is failing.
We tend to view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a 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 had at least one or more situations 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 making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.
As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some studies.
How individuals 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 aspect. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it might be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Communication will undoubtedly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s probably not that shocking.
But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication issues.
When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many noticeable symptoms. Your tv may get a little louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a beverage at your local pub. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through most of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly deteriorate because of this. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common annoyance (even more aggravating when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But that frustration often turns to worry when they recognize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.
So, your partner may suggest you schedule a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.
Your partner’s worry is relevant and it’s essential for you to acknowledge that. Talk openly with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just annoyed with you.
Early hearing loss has a few other signs
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Consonants are hard to distinguish
- People sound far-away or muted when they speak
- Needing to ask others to talk louder or slow down
- Turning the volume up on your devices
You should contact us for a hearing exam if you have any of these symptoms.
Always protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be sure you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.
A diminishing attention span will be to blame for the majority of selective hearing situations in your life. But you may want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.