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 was accomplished. When you ask why it didn’t get done, your partner responds “I never heard you ask me”. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a common sign that communication is failing.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a kind of character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is saying they weren’t listening to you. But it’s possible that the real cause behind your selective hearing may not be a short attention span, it might be the early phases of hearing loss.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve probably been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if no one used that particular name. 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 bit about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.

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.

It may be tempting to make some assumptions about that (and the way that individuals are socialized certainly does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is probably another major aspect. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will certainly be harder with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re likely not shocked by that.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those very early stages, there won’t be a lot of noticeable symptoms. Maybe you start cranking the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you go out for a drink at your local bar. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? But besides situations like that, you may never even observe how loud everyday sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate because of this. Up to the time you’re having trouble following 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 close to you are beginning to be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a relatively common aggravation (even more annoying when you already feel like no one listens to you). But that frustration often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

So, your partner might suggest 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 and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just annoyance.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth watching out for some of these other early signs of hearing loss. A few of those signs include:

  • Turning the volume up on your devices
  • Needing to ask people to speak up or slow down
  • People sound far-away or muted when they talk
  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging

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

Always safeguard your hearing

Safeguarding your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t stay away from overly loud noise, make sure you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you might have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by using hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most selective hearing incidents in your life. 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.