The only one thing that you asked for was for the garbage to be taken out. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is breaking down.
We normally view selective hearing as a negative, kind of like it’s a character flaw. Accusing somebody of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing might actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.
What is selective hearing?
You’ve likely had at least one or more scenarios 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 bit that’s negative. You hear the part about cooking a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.
As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. 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 into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is most likely another major component. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early indication of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can cause gaps in communication
Communication will definitely be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s probably not that surprising.
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. Perhaps you start cranking the volume up on your tv. 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 might never even notice how loud daily sounds can be. This lets your hearing slowly (but surely) deteriorate. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.
Your hearing health is worrying your partner
The people close to you will likely be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common irritation (even more frustrating when you already feel like nobody is listening to you). But that frustration often becomes concern when they realize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.
It’s important to pay attention 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 signs of hearing loss
You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Here are a few of those signs:
- People sound far-away or muted when they talk
- Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
- Turning the volume up on your devices
- Having to ask people to speak up or slow down
- Trouble hearing in crowds
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Wear ear protection
Safeguarding your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to noisy settings (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 may have caused in the first place.
In most situations throughout your life, selective hearing is going to be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to have your hearing checked.