You asked for help with one simple task: take out the trash. 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 wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.
We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one used that specific name. When you miss all the things 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 extremely common. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some studies.
How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is likely another major aspect. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it might be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Communication will certainly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s probably not that shocking.
But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be very hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early stages. Maybe you begin cranking the volume up on your tv. 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 daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) diminish. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.
Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing
You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to be concerned. Your family and friends will likely be annoyed when they think you’re intentionally ignoring what they say. But as it turns out more and more often, irritation may turn to concern.
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 relevant and it’s essential for you to acknowledge that. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.
Early hearing loss has a few other signs
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:
- Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
- Speech sounds distant or muffled
- Consonants are hard to distinguish
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Turning the volume up on your devices
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 safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be sure you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.
A diminishing attention span will be responsible for the majority of selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing checked.