You asked for help with one basic chore: take out the trash. But, regrettably, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.
We often think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if nobody used that particular name. When you miss all the stuff you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. That kind of thing.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How people are socialized does provide some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the situation might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication
Communication will definitely be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not shocked by that.
But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication issues.
Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Maybe you start cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you may never even notice how loud daily sounds can be. This lets your hearing gradually deteriorate. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
You will notice some of the people in your life are starting to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel like no one is listening to you). But that frustration often becomes worry when they realize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.
And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.
Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s important for you to acknowledge that. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.
Early hearing loss has a few other signs
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:
- Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Trouble hearing in crowds
- Turning up the volume on your devices
- Consonants are hard to make out
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Use ear protection
It’s crucial that you take steps to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). 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 most selective hearing incidents in your life. 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 tested.