You asked for help with one simple chore: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failing communication.
We tend to view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where someone 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 part that’s negative. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.
It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.
It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the situation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Communication will certainly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not shocked by that.
But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication problems.
Symptoms can be very hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Perhaps you begin turning the volume up on your tv. 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. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) diminish. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you regularly have trouble hearing conversations.
Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing
You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more irritating when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that frustration often turns to concern when they realize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.
It’s important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just irritated with you.
Early hearing loss has a few other indicators
If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it may be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Here are some of those signs:
- Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
- Speech sounds distant or muffled
- Having a difficult time making out consonants
- Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Hearing in crowds is challenging
You should call us for a hearing test if you have any of these symptoms.
Always safeguard your hearing
It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more successfully.
A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But you might want to take it as an indication that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.