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 out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is breaking down.

We normally think of selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve probably been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one used that specific term. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate ice cream, but you miss the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some studies.

How people are socialized does give some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the situation might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can produce gaps in communication

Communication will definitely be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not surprised by that.

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

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be a lot of noticeable symptoms. Maybe you begin turning the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local bar. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you may never even notice how loud day-to-day sounds can be. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) decline. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people in your life are starting to worry. Your family and friends will most likely be frustrated when they think you’re deliberately missing what they say. But that frustration often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss might be the actual culprit.

So, your partner may recommend you set up a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. 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 indications 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 indications of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:

  • Cranking the volume up on your devices
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Having a tough time distinguishing consonants
  • Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder

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

Wear ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

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

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.