“I understand” is a phrase we use often. Both with easy and difficult ideas. As I’ve aged, I notice that many use this phrase as an automatic response rather than a true indication of their true understanding of a topic or issue.
Why is this reflexive answer so easy and automatic for us to use?
We don’t want to be embarrassed by stating we don’t understand.
We’re afraid to ask the next question for more clarity because we think this next question is dumb.
What’s being discussed is so far from anything we know anything about, we don’t know what we should ask next.
We’re too rushed to slow down to really listen and process what was said. So we quickly say “I understand” and move on.
Or we simply want to be pleasant and courteous, dismissing what was said with the quick stop phrase of “I understand”.
Using the phrase “I understand” can push a conversation along or it can be used to hide how little we know. Neither provides us with a great outcome.
Only our next question can attempt to improve who we are by being curious enough to learn more about what we know little about or in truth, don’t fully understand.