The Nature of Selective Hearing

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

The only one thing that you requested was for the trash to be taken out. But, regrettably, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of poor communication.

We often view selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character defect. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real culprit behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it might be the early stages of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve most 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”. 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. That kind of thing.

It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most studies point to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.

How individuals are socialized does give some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it might be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a great deal more difficult. That’s likely not that shocking.

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

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be a lot of apparent symptoms. Your tv might get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local bar. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. But besides situations like that, you might never even observe how loud daily sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having trouble following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will most likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if no one listens to you). But as it turns out more and more often, aggravation may turn to concern.

So, your partner may suggest you schedule a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s essential for you to acknowledge that. Talk openly with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply irritated with you.

Early hearing loss has a few other signs

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

  • Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled

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

Always safeguard your hearing

Protecting your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you use 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 successfully.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing situations in your life. But you may want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin to notice your selective hearing getting worse.

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.