The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

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 says “I never heard you ask me”. Why are you not surprised that your partner failed to hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a common indication that communication is failing.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a kind of character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing someone of deliberately not listening. But selective hearing could actually be connected to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

What is selective hearing?

You’ve most likely had at least one or more scenarios in your life where someone has accused you of not listening, even if no one specifically used the phrase “selective hearing”. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s useful 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.

It’s very common for people to have selective hearing behavior. However, most research points to men failing to hear their partners more often than women.

How people are socialized does give some context and it might be tempting to make some assumptions from this. But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it might be a clue that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication much more challenging. That’s most likely not that shocking.

But one prominent indication of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be very many noticeable symptoms. Perhaps you begin 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 tavern. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your day-to-day life without even noticing the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing gradually deteriorate. 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 worried. Your friends and family will most likely be annoyed when they think you’re deliberately ignoring what they say. But as it happens more and more frequently, aggravation may turn to worry.

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

Your partner’s worry is significant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion and consider that they have a caring attitude and not just annoyance.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

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

  • Having a difficult time making out consonants
  • Turning the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Having to ask people to talk louder or slow down
  • Trouble hearing in crowds

You should contact us for a hearing exam if you experience any of these symptoms.

Always safeguard your hearing

Protecting your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. Reduce your exposure to noisy settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must 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 effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing incidents in your life. But you might want to take it as a sign that it’s time to get a hearing test when people around you begin 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.