A few weeks ago, I joined my first support group, online, for people with only one ear that works well (I have one perfect ear and one that has been measured as so bad that one would have to exceed the pain threshold to have me hear through it). I discovered on that list that none of us can fix the direction of sound when we are not looking right at the speaker, and all of us have difficulty with conversations when there is cross-talk. Physics says that it will be this way, if there is no effective work-around. This is a verbal analog of the difficulty with depth perception that people experience if they have only one eye that sees. Other members of the list I joined have expressed feeling [stupid] when they are unable to follow conversations that people with two good ears follow easily.
Any number of people on the autism spectrum have difficulty in following a conversation with cross-talk in it as well, but for other reasons, related to auditory processing, or related to having the ability to concentrate when experiencing sensory overload, or other reasons. These need not have anything to do with hearing itself. In my case, when there is a change in subject that I am not expecting, I intermittently miss the initial syllable of the first word in a sentence, or think I do. If I lack the context of what is being discussed, then I have to ask to hear at least some of it again. I can be paying attention and still have this happen- but I can go for quite awhile during the day and not encounter the problem.
Recently, I was in Church when we were trying out a new kind of Sunday School exercise. In the sanctuary, we were placed in a number of circles, and held discussions about a list of Bible verses related to the sermon. I could not understand when there was cross-talk, and could not even hear someone say hello to me as I entered. When it gets too loud for me to distinguish one voice from another easily, I have tended to just act as if nobody will care, and ignore everyone- but that day, I was suddenly able to hear two ladies I know well talking about me, and realized that one had tried to greet me and I had not responded. So, I explained. The study had not really started yet, so we were able to hear each other with an effort. Then, the study began. Within our circle, we took turns, so I could hear all right so long as the background noise of the other little groups did not get too loud. Suddenly, someone in another group got really excited at a point that was being made in his group and began to talk much more loudly. Of course, I could not hear a thing well enough to distinguish it, that was being said in my group. But then, the most wonderful thing happened: these two dear ladies both spoke up and told him to quiet down -- actually, they said "stop yelling!" I felt so good! A few days later, I mentioned it to another sister, and she said that as people get older, more and more people have issues with their ears, so they understand about not being able to hear and understand when there is cross-talk. Both these wonderful people are about ten years older than I am, and very caring. I love the idea that as I age, it will get easier, and even if the reasons are different for certain things, others will understand enough to reach out to me effectively.