Diving into the Nature of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple chore: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Curious how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failing communication.

We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

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 phrase “selective hearing”. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.

As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.

How people are socialized does provide some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is probably another major aspect. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication a lot harder. You’re probably not shocked by that.

But one prominent indication of hearing loss is communication problems.

When hearing loss is in those really early stages, there aren’t going to be a lot of noticeable symptoms. Maybe you begin cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. You most likely just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing gradually decline. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is worrying your partner

The people around you will likely be worried. Your family and friends will likely be annoyed when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But that frustration often becomes worry when they acknowledge that hearing loss might be the actual culprit.

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

It’s important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:

  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds
  • People sound far-away or muffled when they speak
  • Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio

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

Always protect your hearing

It’s critical that you take steps to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as an indication 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.