The only one thing that you asked for was for the trash to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they needed done? This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is breaking down.
We have the tendency to view 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 selective hearing could 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 no one used that specific term. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s helpful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That kind of thing.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some studies.
How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is most likely another major component. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it could be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication
Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication a lot more challenging. You’re likely not shocked by that.
But one prominent sign of hearing loss is communication issues.
Symptoms can be very difficult to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Your tv may get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a beverage at your local tavern. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, besides that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually diminish because of this. You scarcely notice the problem until you’re at the point where you regularly have difficulty hearing conversations.
Your hearing health is concerning your partner
The people around you will most likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common annoyance (even more annoying when you already feel like no one is listening to you). But that aggravation often becomes worry when they realize that hearing loss might be the actual culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you set up a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.
Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion 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 be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:
- Consonants are hard to make out
- When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
- Needing to ask people to speak up or slow down
- Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Hearing in crowds is challenging
If you have any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.
Wear ear protection
It’s crucial that you take steps to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy environments (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss may have caused in the first place.
In most circumstances throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But when you (or someone around you) notices your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing checked.