The Nature of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple task: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never got done. “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 usually a sign of poor communication.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely had at least one or more scenarios 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 beneficial to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.

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.

How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the situation may have something to do with hearing health. 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

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication much harder. You’re most likely not shocked by that.

But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication problems are a sign of hearing loss.

Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Your tv might get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local pub. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through most of your everyday life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing gradually deteriorate. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you often have difficulty hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is worrying your partner

You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more aggravating when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But as it turns out more and more often, aggravation may turn to concern.

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 and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:

  • Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder

You should call us for a hearing test if you experience any of these symptoms.

Wear ear protection

It’s essential that you take measures to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for the majority of selective hearing incidents in your life. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

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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