The only one thing that you requested was for the garbage to be taken out. A little while later you discover your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Curious how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is breaking down.
This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a sort of character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than 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 particular name. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.
It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some research.
How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to make some assumptions 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 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. You’re likely not surprised 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 obvious symptoms. Maybe you start cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to gradually decline. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
The people close to you will most 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 turns to concern when they acknowledge that hearing loss may be the real culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you set up a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.
It’s important to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply annoyed with you.
Other early signs of hearing loss
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. A few of those signs include:
- Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
- Turning up the volume on your devices
- Having to ask people to talk louder or slow down
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Speech sounds distant or muffled
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Use ear protection
Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). 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 cases throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you might want to take it as a signal that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.