The Nature 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 was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Funny how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing someone of purposely not listening. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

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 phrase “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 the chocolate cake, but you miss the part about the calories. Things like that.

As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some studies.

It might be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is most likely another major factor. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication much harder. That’s probably not that surprising.

But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are a sign of hearing loss.

When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there won’t be very many apparent symptoms. Your tv may get a little louder. 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. But besides situations like that, you may never even notice how loud day-to-day sounds can be. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) deteriorate. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you regularly have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people around you will likely be concerned. 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 acknowledge that hearing loss may be the real culprit.

And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just aggravation.

Other early indications of hearing loss

If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it may be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Here are some of those signs:

  • Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Turning up the volume on your devices
  • People sound far-away or muted when they speak
  • Having a hard time making out consonants

You should call us for a hearing test if you have any of these symptoms.

Always safeguard your hearing

It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be 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 effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for the majority of selective hearing incidents in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you may want to take that as an indication that it’s time to get 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.