The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

Wife is annoyed by husband who appears to have selective hearing.

You asked for help with one basic chore: take the trash out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failing communication.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character defect. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it might be the early stages of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve probably had at least one or more situations in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. When you miss all the things 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.

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most research points to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.

How individuals 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 component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will definitely be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re likely not surprised by that.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication problems.

Symptoms can be really hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Maybe you begin cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to gradually diminish. Up to the time you’re having problems following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people around you will most likely be concerned. Your friends and family will most likely be irritated when they think you’re deliberately ignoring what they say. But as it turns out more and more often, irritation may 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 are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.

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 seems to be getting worse. A few of those signs include:

  • Requesting that people speak slower and talk louder
  • Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds

If you have any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.

Wear ear protection

It’s crucial that you take measures to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more successfully.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most selective hearing situations in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing tested.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.