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The Dynamics of Selective Hearing

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

You asked for help with one basic chore: take the trash out. But, regrettably, it never was accomplished. “I Didn’t hear you”, they say. Why are you not surprised that your partner didn’t hear the one thing they needed done? The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s usually a sign of failing communication.

This “selective hearing” is frequently viewed as a sort of character flaw. Accusing someone of selective hearing is implying they weren’t listening to you. But selective hearing may 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 somebody 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 helpful to you but conveniently miss the bit that’s negative. You hear the bit about the chocolate ice cream, but you don’t hear the part about the calories. Things like that.

As a behavior, selective hearing is incredibly common. But this behavior is more prevalent in men than women, according to some studies.

How individuals are socialized does provide some context and it might be tempting to make some assumptions 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 a hint that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Communication will certainly be more difficult with undiagnosed hearing loss. That’s likely not that surprising.

But one notable sign of hearing loss is communication issues.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there aren’t going to be very many apparent symptoms. Maybe you begin turning the volume up on your tv. You can’t quite hear what your friend is saying when you stop for a beverage at your local bar. You probably just presume it’s because of the loud music. But besides scenarios like that, you might never even notice how loud day-to-day sounds can be. Your hearing can gradually deteriorate because of this. You hardly notice the issue until you’re at the point where you often have trouble hearing conversations.

Your hearing health is concerning your partner

You will notice some of the people close to you are starting to worry. Yes, selective hearing is a rather common irritation (even more irritating when you already feel as if no one is listening to you). But that aggravation often turns to worry when they realize that hearing loss might be the real culprit.

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

Your partner’s concern is significant and it’s important for you to recognize that. Have an open discussion with them and welcome their help because they care about your well-being and aren’t just aggravated with you.

Other early signs of hearing loss

If your selective hearing has become worse over time, it may be worth keeping an eye out for some of these other early indications of hearing loss. Here are a few of those signs:

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

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

Always safeguard your hearing

Safeguarding your hearing is so crucial to preventing hearing loss. Minimize your exposure to noisy settings (or at least use earmuffs or earplugs when you must be around noise). Hearing aids can also help you have more effective communication, which can smooth over many rough patches that your hearing loss might 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 somebody around you) notices your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to have your hearing assessed.

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.