You asked for help with one basic chore: take out the trash. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner says “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is breaking down.
We normally view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. 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 probably had at least one or more situations in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. That sort of thing.
It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.
How people are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Communication will definitely be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not surprised by that.
But one prominent sign of hearing loss is communication problems.
Symptoms can be very hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a beverage at your local bar. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. You barely notice the problem until you’re at the point where you regularly have difficulty hearing conversations.
Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing
The people close to you will most likely be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common annoyance (even more aggravating when you already feel like nobody is listening to you). But that frustration often becomes concern when they acknowledge that hearing loss could 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 conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.
Other early indications of hearing loss
You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:
- Turning the volume up on your devices
- Trouble hearing in crowds
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
- People sound distant or muted when they talk
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Use ear protection
Safeguarding your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud environments (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.
In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you may want to take it as a signal that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to observe your selective hearing getting worse.