You asked for help with one basic chore: take out the trash. A little bit later you discover your partner failed to do it. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.
We often think of selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But it’s possible that the actual cause behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.
Selective hearing – what is it?
You’ve likely had at least one or more situations in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.
As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How people are socialized does offer some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the picture might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication much more challenging. That’s likely not that shocking.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there won’t be very many noticeable symptoms. Your tv may get a bit 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? But besides situations like that, you may never even notice how loud day-to-day sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. You scarcely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you regularly have trouble hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Your family and friends will likely be annoyed when they think you’re purposely ignoring what they say. But that aggravation often becomes worry when they realize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.
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 relevant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just annoyed with you.
Other early signs of hearing loss
If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it might be worth watching out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:
- Cranking up the volume on your devices
- Hearing in crowds is difficult
- Having to ask people to talk louder or slow down
- Having a tough time distinguishing consonants
- People sound far-away or muffled when they talk
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Always protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you wear 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 circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a waning attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing getting worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to get your hearing assessed.