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 out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Crazy how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you requested from them. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

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

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some point in your life, even if nobody used that particular name. When you miss all the things you don’t want to hear but hear everything else, that’s selective hearing. You hear the part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. That sort of thing.

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

It might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from 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 situation might have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” begins to become more common, it could be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can definitely make communication a lot more difficult. You’re probably not shocked by that.

But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication issues are a sign of hearing loss.

Symptoms can be really hard to notice when hearing loss is in the early phases. Perhaps you begin cranking the volume on your tv up. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a drink at your local tavern. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. But besides scenarios like that, you may never even observe how loud day-to-day sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually diminish because of this. Up to the time you’re having difficulty following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming worried 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 irritating when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But as it happens more and more frequently, irritation may turn to worry.

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

It’s important to listen to your partner’s concerns. Have an open conversation and consider that they are coming from a place of caring and not just aggravation.

Other early indications of hearing loss

You should watch out for some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing appears to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:

  • Speech sounds distant or muffled
  • Cranking up the volume on your mobile phone, television, or radio
  • Having a difficult time making out consonants
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Needing to ask others to talk louder or slow down

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

Use ear protection

Safeguarding your hearing is so critical to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to loud 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 effectively.

A diminishing attention span will be responsible for most selective hearing incidents in your life. But when you (or somebody around you) notices your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to get your hearing tested.

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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