The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. A little while later you discover your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is failing.
We tend to view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of intentionally not listening. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve most likely 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 useful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That kind of thing.
It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some research.
It might be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that people are socialized definitely does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is likely another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Communication can be impacted by hearing loss
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication much more challenging. You’re most likely not surprised by that.
But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is in those very early phases, there aren’t going to be a lot of apparent symptoms. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing conversations. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) deteriorate. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
You will notice some of the people close to you are beginning to worry. Your friends and family will probably be irritated when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But as it turns out more and more often, aggravation might turn to worry.
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 conversation and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.
Early hearing loss has a few other indicators
You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Having a hard time making out consonants
- Having to ask others to speak up or slow down
If you have any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Always safeguard your hearing
It’s critical that you take steps to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, make sure you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough spots that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.
In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a waning attention span. But when you (or someone around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing assessed.