The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. A little while later you realize your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner says “I never heard you ask me”. Funny how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failed communication.
We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it may be the early phases of hearing loss.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve probably had at least one or more situations in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. 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. Things like that.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How people are socialized does offer some context and it may be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But hearing health is likely another major component. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s most likely not that shocking.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are a sign of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be a lot of obvious symptoms. Maybe you start cranking the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common aggravation (even more aggravating when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But that aggravation often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you set up a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.
Your partner’s concern is relevant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Talk openly with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just annoyed with you.
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 signs of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Having to ask others to speak up or slow down
- Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
You should call us for a hearing exam if you experience any of these symptoms.
Always safeguard your hearing
It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, make sure you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more successfully.
In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But you might want to take it as an indication that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you start to notice your selective hearing getting worse.