You asked for help with one basic chore: take the trash out. A little while later you discover your partner failed to do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failing communication.
We tend to view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios 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 stuff 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 extremely common. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some studies.
How people are socialized does provide 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 a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can produce gaps in communication
Communication will certainly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re most likely not shocked by that.
But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication problems.
When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there aren’t going to be very many obvious symptoms. Perhaps you begin turning the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing gradually decline. Up to the time you’re having problems 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 concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that aggravation often becomes worry when they realize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.
So, your partner may recommend you schedule a hearing test to find out if something is wrong.
Your partner’s concern is relevant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.
Other early signs of hearing loss
You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. A few of those signs include:
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- People sound far-away or muted when they speak
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Needing to ask people to speak up or slow down
- Consonants are hard to distinguish
You should call us for a hearing test if you experience any of these symptoms.
Always safeguard your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be sure 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 effectively.
In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.