Diving into 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 got done. “I Didn’t hear you”, they declare. Crazy how that works, how your partner failed to hear the one thing you asked them to do. The colloquial term for this is “selective hearing,” and it’s often a sign of failed communication.

We often view selective hearing as a negative, almost like it’s a character flaw. It’s as if you’re accusing somebody of intentionally not listening. But selective hearing could actually be related to untreated hearing loss rather than a short attention span.

Selective hearing – what is it?

You’ve most likely been accused of selective hearing at some time in your life, even if nobody 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 part about making a delicious meal but miss the part about cleaning up the dishes. Things like that.

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

How individuals are socialized does offer some context and it may 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 prominent or more common. That could actually be an early sign of hearing loss.

Communication can be impacted by hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss can certainly make communication a great deal more difficult. You’re most likely not surprised by that.

But one prominent indication of hearing loss is communication problems.

When hearing loss is in those really early phases, there won’t be very many apparent symptoms. Perhaps you start 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 bar. It’s probably because the music is so loud, right? And so, other than that, you could go through most of your daily life without giving much notice to the volume of the world around you. This lets your hearing gradually diminish. Up to the time you’re having problems following 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 concerned. Yes, selective hearing is a fairly common aggravation (even more frustrating when you already feel as if nobody listens to you). But as it turns out more and more often, aggravation might turn to worry.

So, your partner may recommend you schedule a hearing exam to determine if something is wrong.

It’s important 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 simply annoyed with you.

Other early indications of hearing loss

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

  • Having a hard time distinguishing consonants
  • Needing to ask others to speak up or slow down
  • Hearing in crowds is challenging
  • When people talk it sounds distant or muffled
  • Cranking the volume up on your mobile phone, television, or radio

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call us for a hearing test.

Always protect your hearing

Safeguarding your hearing is so essential to preventing hearing loss. If you can’t avoid overly loud noise, be certain that you use hearing protection, like muffs or plugs. Any feathers that you may have ruffled with your selective hearing can be smoothed over by wearing hearing aids to communicate more effectively.

In most cases throughout your life, selective hearing will be an artifact of a diminishing attention span. But when you (or somebody around you) observes your selective hearing becoming worse, you might want to take that as an indication that it’s time to get your hearing checked.

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.