The importance of listening and hearing

Listening is hard work!  Many people with hearing loss, even mild loss, tell us that they feel “mentally tired” after spending time in conversation with family and friends.  In some cases, they even feel physically tired – sometimes exhausted – after a more intensive listening situation.

Researchers have determined that listening is the form of communication that we use most frequently.  Considering all the ways that we communicate, studies have shown that the breakdown is about:

  • 10 percent of our time writing
  • 15 percent reading
  • 30 percent speaking
  • and 45 percent listening!

Even though listening is the tool that we use most often, there are several challenges we all experience.  Distractions can significantly affect our ability to comprehend and retain what we’ve heard.  The human mind can think much faster than anyone can speak: most people speak at a rate of about 120 words per minute, but we have the mental capacity to comprehend over 400 words per minute.  So our mind tends to wander, and focus its “excess capacity” on other things.  Studies show that immediately following a listening situation, most people will only remember about 50% of what they heard – and 24 hours later, this declines to about 25%.  And, our listening skill tends to decline with age.

All this means that hearing – the physical act of processing sound — is extremely important.  A person who suffers from hearing loss is already missing much of the conversation.  Coupled with the challenges in listening (processing information), the decline of communication becomes even more severe.

If you sense that you are fatigued after spending time in social situations, or at the end of the day, it may be due to some level of hearing loss.  Feel free to call our office and schedule an appointment for an evaluation.  We are here to help, and can offer suggestions for coping with your individual hearing environment.  A simple hearing test can determine whether you have normal hearing, or a deficit that is contributing to your difficulty in listening.