The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one simple task: take the trash out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Crazy how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a normal indication that communication is breaking down.

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

What is selective hearing?

You’ve probably had at least one or more situations in your life where somebody has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the term “selective hearing”. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That kind of thing.

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

How people are socialized does offer some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But hearing health is likely another major component. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it could be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication

Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication a lot more challenging. That’s probably not that shocking.

But one prominent sign of hearing loss is communication issues.

Symptoms can be very difficult to detect when hearing loss is in the early phases. Your tv might get a bit louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing conversations. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to gradually diminish. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

You will notice some of the people in your life are beginning to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel like nobody is listening to you). But that aggravation often turns to worry when they acknowledge that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing test to find out if something is wrong.

It’s significant to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just aggravated with you.

Other early signs of hearing loss

You should be aware of 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:

  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Requesting that people talk slower and speak up
  • People sound far-away or muted when they talk
  • Hearing in crowds is difficult
  • Cranking the volume up on your devices

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

Use ear protection

It’s essential that you take measures to safeguard your ears in order to prevent hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, make sure you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you may want to take it as an indication that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you start to observe 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.