The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

The only one thing that you requested was for the trash to be taken out. But, unfortunately, it never got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Why aren’t you surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

We have the tendency to think of selective hearing as a negative, sort of like it’s a character flaw. It’s like you’re accusing somebody of purposely not listening. But selective hearing might actually be related to untreated hearing loss instead of a short attention span.

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 helpful to you but conveniently miss the part that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate cake, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. That kind of thing.

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

How individuals are socialized does give some context and it may be tempting to draw some social conclusions from this. But the other part of the picture may have something to do with hearing health. If your “selective hearing” starts to become more common, it might be an indication that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Hearing loss can produce gaps in communication

Communication will undoubtedly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s most likely not that shocking.

But here’s the thing: oftentimes, communication problems are an indication of hearing loss.

When hearing loss is in those really early stages, there aren’t going to be a lot of apparent symptoms. Your tv may get a bit louder. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local tavern. It’s most likely because the music is so loud, right? And so, besides that, you could go through most of your everyday life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate because of this. You barely notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have trouble hearing conversations.

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 irritation (even more annoying when you already feel as if nobody is listening to you). But that frustration often turns to concern when they acknowledge that hearing loss may be the actual culprit.

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

It’s significant to listen 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 just annoyed 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. A few of those signs include:

  • Consonants are hard to make out
  • Trouble hearing in crowds
  • Needing to ask people to speak up or slow down
  • People sound distant or muffled when they talk
  • Turning up the volume on your devices

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 critical to preventing hearing loss. Limit your exposure to noisy environments (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.

In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a waning attention span. But you may want to take it as a signal that it’s time for a hearing test when people around you begin to notice 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.