The Nature of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one basic task: take out the trash. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Funny how that works, how your partner didn’t hear the one thing you asked them to do. This “selective hearing” is a normal sign that communication is failing.

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

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if no one used that particular name. Selective hearing occurs when you can clearly hear information that’s beneficial 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.

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

It may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from that (and the way that people are socialized definitely does play into how this behavior is contextualized). But hearing health is probably another major factor. Let’s say your “selective hearing” begins to become more prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will definitely be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. You’re most likely not shocked by that.

But one prominent indication of hearing loss is communication problems.

Symptoms can be really hard to detect when hearing loss is in the early stages. Your tv may get a bit louder. When go out to your local haunt, you have a difficult time hearing what people are saying. You probably just assume it’s because of the loud music. And so, other than that, you could go through the majority of your day-to-day life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can slowly deteriorate because of this. Up to the time you’re having problems following along with daily conversations, you almost don’t notice.

Your partner is becoming concerned about the health of your hearing

The people close to you will probably be concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common annoyance (even more annoying when you already feel like nobody listens to you). But as it happens more and more frequently, aggravation might turn to concern.

So, your partner may suggest you set up a hearing exam to find out if something is wrong.

It’s significant to pay attention to your partner’s concerns. Have an open discussion with them and accept their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t simply irritated with you.

Early hearing loss has a few other indicators

You should be aware of some of the other early warning signs of hearing loss if your selective hearing seems to be getting worse. Some of those signs include:

  • People sound far-away or muted when they speak
  • Having to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Consonants are hard to distinguish
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • Cranking the volume up on your devices

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. Reduce your exposure to noisy environments (or at least wear earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

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 getting worse, you may want to take that as a sign 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.