You asked for help with one basic task: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner says “I never heard you ask me”. Curious 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 often a sign of failing communication.
This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a sort of character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing may actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that specific term. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate cake, but you miss 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.
It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is likely another major aspect. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication
Communication will certainly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s probably not that surprising.
But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication issues are a sign of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be really difficult to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. But besides situations like that, you might never even observe how loud daily sounds can be. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) diminish. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you regularly have difficulty hearing conversations.
Your partner is becoming concerned 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 aggravation (even more aggravating when you already feel as if no one listens to you). But that frustration often becomes concern 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 essential for you to acknowledge that. Talk openly with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just aggravated with you.
Early hearing loss has a few other signs
You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are some of those signs:
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Having a tough time making out consonants
- Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Use ear protection
Protecting your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be certain you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more effectively.
In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to observe your selective hearing getting worse.