Diving into the Nature of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple chore: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Curious 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 poor communication.

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

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if nobody used that particular 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 bit about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. 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 frequently than women.

How people are socialized does give some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is likely another major factor. If your “selective hearing” begins 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 definitely make communication a great deal more difficult. That’s probably not that surprising.

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

Symptoms can be really difficult to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Maybe you begin turning the volume on your tv up. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? But besides scenarios like that, you might never even observe how loud day-to-day sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. You hardly notice the problem until you’re at the point where you often have trouble hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But as it happens more and more often, irritation might turn to concern.

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

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. 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:

  • Trouble hearing in crowds
  • Having a difficult time making out consonants
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Cranking the volume up on your devices
  • Having to ask others to speak up or slow down

You should call us for a hearing exam if you experience any of these symptoms.

Always protect your hearing

It’s critical that you take measures to protect your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, be sure you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Hearing aids can also help you communicate effectively, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing assessed.

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.