You asked for help with one basic task: take out the trash. A little bit later you discover your partner failed to do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of poor communication.
We have the tendency to view selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it may be the early stages of hearing loss.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve probably had at least one or more situations in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “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 miss the part about the calories. Things like that.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How people are socialized does give some context and it might be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major component. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication much more difficult. That’s most likely not that surprising.
But one prominent sign of hearing loss is communication issues.
When hearing loss is in those very early phases, there aren’t going to be very many noticeable symptoms. Your tv might get a bit louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing
The people close to you will likely be worried. Your friends and family will likely be frustrated when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But that frustration often turns to concern when they recognize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.
It’s significant 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 just aggravated with you.
Other early signs of hearing loss
If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:
- Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- People sound far-away or muted when they talk
- Hearing in crowds is challenging
- Having a difficult time making out consonants
You should call us for a hearing test if you experience any of these symptoms.
Always protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more effectively.
In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have your hearing checked.