The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

Wife is annoyed by husband who appears to have selective hearing.

The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of poor communication.

This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a kind of character defect. It’s like you’re accusing someone of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the real culprit behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that specific term. 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 making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That kind of thing.

It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.

It may be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is probably another major factor. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it could be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot harder. That’s likely not that surprising.

But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be very many obvious symptoms. Perhaps you begin turning the volume up on your tv. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local pub. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? But besides scenarios like that, you may never even observe how loud everyday sounds can be. This allows your hearing to gradually diminish. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will probably be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more irritating when you already feel like no one listens to you). But as it happens more and more often, aggravation might 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 significant and it’s important for you to acknowledge that. Have an open conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:

  • People sound distant or muffled when they speak
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds
  • Turning the volume up on your devices
  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Having a difficult time making out consonants

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.

Always protect your hearing

Protecting your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.

In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But when you (or someone around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you may want to take that as an indication that it’s time to get your hearing checked.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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