You asked for help with one basic chore: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of poor communication.
We often view selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the real culprit behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios 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 part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.
It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How people are socialized does provide some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is probably another major aspect. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot more challenging. That’s probably not that surprising.
But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be very hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Perhaps you begin cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing
The people around you will likely be worried. Your family and friends will probably be irritated when they think you’re intentionally missing what they say. But that frustration often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss might be the actual culprit.
And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.
It’s important to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.
Other early indications of hearing loss
If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Here are some of those signs:
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
- Cranking up the volume on your devices
- Having a tough time making out consonants
- Trouble hearing in crowds
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Always protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid 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 using hearing aids to communicate more successfully.
A diminishing attention span will be responsible for the majority of selective hearing situations in your life. But you may want to take it as a sign that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin to observe your selective hearing getting worse.