You asked for help with one simple task: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they state. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they wanted done? This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.
We normally view selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing someone of intentionally not listening. But it’s possible that the actual culprit behind your selective hearing might not be a short attention span, it may 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 no one used that specific term. 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 the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That kind of thing.
As a behavior, selective hearing is very common. However, most studies point to males failing to hear their partners more often than women.
How people are socialized does give some context and it might be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the equation might have something to do with hearing health. Let’s say your “selective hearing” starts to become more prevalent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can create gaps in communication
Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a lot harder. You’re most likely not surprised by that.
But here’s the thing: in many cases, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.
Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Your tv may get a little louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a hard time hearing what people are saying. You most likely just presume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This allows your hearing to slowly (but surely) decline. 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
The people around you will likely be worried. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more annoying when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But that aggravation often becomes concern when they recognize that hearing loss could be the real culprit.
So, your partner might recommend you schedule a hearing test to find out if something is wrong.
Your partner’s concern is relevant and it’s essential for you to recognize that. 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
If your selective hearing is getting worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Some of those signs include:
- Requesting that people talk slower and talk louder
- Consonants are hard to make out
- Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio
- Difficulty hearing in crowds
- People sound far-away or muted when they talk
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s worth calling us and getting a hearing test.
Always protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you wear hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. 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.
A diminishing attention span will be to blame for most selective hearing incidents in your life. But when you (or someone around you) notices your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as a sign that it’s time to get your hearing checked.