We are each truly unique beings that project ourselves onto others.

If you compare people by the sum of their knowledge, experiences, character, core beliefs, etc, then clearly no two people are identical. We can see matching patterns, but there are always differences.

“podcast listen” by Terry Freedman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When we communicate, we assume some amount of commonality in usage of terminologies. We project our knowledge on the other people involved, which lead to miscommunication.

For a common example, Socialism gets used a lot in both positive and negative ways. In many cases, the understanding of what “Socialism” means differs greatly between the two sides. Arguments often devolve into fights over definitions.

What is more important? The definition of a word or increasing our mutual understanding of our shared problems?

Listening isn’t latching onto word selection, it is attempting to understand the complex thoughts of an individual who may not share your unique perspective on the unknowable whole of existence.