You asked for help with one simple task: take the trash out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is breaking down.
This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a kind of character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may be the early phases of hearing loss.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely 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 term “selective hearing”. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s helpful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That sort of thing.
It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How individuals are socialized does give some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a great deal harder. That’s most likely not that shocking.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there won’t be a lot of apparent symptoms. Maybe you begin cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) diminish. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
The people close to you will likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common annoyance (even more annoying when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But that frustration often turns to concern 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 worry is significant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion 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. Some of those signs include:
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Cranking the volume up on your devices
- Having to ask others to speak up or slow down
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Always protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. Limit 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.
In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.