The Dynamics 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. A little bit later you realize your partner didn’t do it. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Funny how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you requested from them. This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is breaking down.

This “selective hearing” is often viewed as a kind of character defect. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one used that specific term. Selective hearing happens when you can clearly hear information that’s useful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.

As a behavior, selective hearing is extremely common. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more frequently than women.

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

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can indeed make communication a great deal more challenging. You’re most likely not surprised by that.

But one notable indication of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there aren’t going to be very many noticeable symptoms. Your tv may get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. 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 diminish because of this. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you frequently have trouble hearing conversations.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will probably be worried. Your friends and family will probably be annoyed when they think you’re intentionally ignoring what they say. But that aggravation often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss may be the real culprit.

And your partner may want you to find out what’s going on by having you schedule a hearing test.

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s important for you to acknowledge that. Have an open discussion and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it might be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:

  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Requesting that people speak slower and speak up
  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Difficulty hearing in crowds
  • Turning up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio

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

Always protect your hearing

It’s essential that you take steps to safeguard your ears so that you can prevent hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy settings (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you have to be around noise). 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 to blame for most selective hearing situations in your life. 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 get your hearing assessed.

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.

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