You asked for help with one basic task: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.
This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a sort of character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if nobody used that particular name. When you miss all the stuff you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That sort of thing.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.
It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is probably another major factor. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a great deal more difficult. You’re likely not shocked by that.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is in those really early stages, there aren’t going to be very many obvious symptoms. Maybe you begin cranking the volume up on your tv. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a drink at your local pub. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? 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 scarcely notice the problem until you’re at the point where you frequently have difficulty hearing conversations.
Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing
You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common annoyance (even more annoying when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But that frustration often becomes worry when they recognize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.
And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.
Your partner’s concern is relevant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just annoyance.
Other early signs of hearing loss
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:
- Having a difficult time making out consonants
- Needing to ask people to talk louder or slow down
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Speech sounds distant or muffled
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Use ear protection
It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to noisy settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.
In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing checked.