The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. A little bit later you realize your partner didn’t do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Funny how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you requested from them. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failing communication.
We have the tendency to view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing might 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 scenarios in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial 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 extremely common. But this behavior is more common in men than women, according to some research.
How people are socialized does offer some context and it may be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major aspect. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re probably not surprised by that.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be really hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early stages. Your tv might get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides scenarios like that, you may never even notice how loud day-to-day sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having trouble following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing
The people close to you will probably be worried. Your friends and family will probably be irritated when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But that aggravation often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss might be the real culprit.
So, your partner may suggest you schedule a hearing test to determine if something is wrong.
Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s essential for you to acknowledge that. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.
Other early indications of hearing loss
You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Here are some of those signs:
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Having to ask people to speak up or slow down
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Trouble hearing in crowds
You should contact us for a hearing exam if you experience any of these symptoms.
Use ear protection
It’s essential that you take steps to protect your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more successfully.
In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a waning attention span. But when you (or somebody 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.