The Nature of Selective Hearing

Wife is annoyed by husband who appears to have selective hearing.

The only one thing that you requested 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 says “I never heard you ask me”. Curious how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is breaking down.

We normally think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing might actually be related 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 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 helpful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

It’s extremely common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.

How people are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major aspect. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts 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 certainly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s most likely not that surprising.

But one prominent indication of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be a lot of noticeable symptoms. Your tv may get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local pub. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. But besides scenarios like that, you may never even observe how loud daily sounds can be. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) deteriorate. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common aggravation (even more annoying when you already feel like no one is listening to you). But as it turns out more and more often, irritation might turn to worry.

And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.

Early hearing loss has a few other signs

If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • Having a hard time making out consonants
  • Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.

Wear ear protection

Protecting your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to noisy environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). 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.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing checked.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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