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 the trash out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why they didn’t do it, your partner replies “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? The popular term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failed communication.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a kind of character defect. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one 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 part about cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.

It’s really common for people to have selective hearing behavior. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some research.

It might be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that people are socialized certainly does play a part in how this behavior is contextualized). But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will undoubtedly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s most likely not that surprising.

But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication issues are an indication of hearing loss.

When hearing loss is in those very early phases, there won’t be very many noticeable symptoms. Perhaps you start cranking the volume up on your tv. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. It’s likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your everyday life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually decline because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

The people close to you will most likely be concerned. Your family and friends will likely be frustrated when they think you’re purposely missing what they say. But that aggravation often becomes worry when they recognize that hearing loss could be the actual culprit.

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

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just annoyance.

Other early indications of hearing loss

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:

  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Having a difficult time making out consonants
  • Turning up the volume on your devices

You should contact us for a hearing test if you experience any of these symptoms.

Wear ear protection

Protecting your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to loud environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might have caused in the first place.

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 might want to take that as a sign 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.