You asked for help with one simple chore: take the trash out. A little while later you discover your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually 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 connected 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 no one used that specific name. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. That sort of thing.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some studies.
How people are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot harder. That’s most likely not that shocking.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is in those really early stages, there aren’t going to be very many apparent symptoms. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through most of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you regularly have trouble hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to be concerned. Your friends and family will likely be annoyed when they think you’re deliberately missing what they say. But that frustration often becomes concern when they acknowledge that hearing loss might be the real culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you set up a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.
Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s essential 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 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 signs of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
- Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Consonants are hard to make out
You should contact us for a hearing exam if you have any of these symptoms.
Always protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to noisy settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, 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) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as an indication that it’s time to get your hearing tested.