Communication relies on common ground. In order for me to connect with another individual, we must be aligned on something that we have in common.
This is a pretty simple concept to grasp. Of course, I will get on better with someone who is interested in something that I’m also interested in.
However, there is something deeper at play here. Something on a primal, unconscious level.
We are heavily influenced by those who we spend time with. We gravitate and connect with people who have similar beliefs and worldviews. We understand each other’s perception of the world through verbal (and non-verbal) communication.
This is even reflected in our brain activity. The neural processes in one brain is “coupled” to the neural processes in another brain when we are exposed to environmental stimuli (i.e. sounds).
Said more simply; when we hear the same thing (i.e. a news item), our brain’s response is nearly identical to someone who holds a similar worldview. This is also influenced by what we are regularly exposed to (i.e. if we subscribe to a particular media channel). These channels give us different perspectives of reality.
So it wouldn’t be out of place to say that the people we are coupled to (and regularly in contact with), defines who we are.
Yet, we can’t stop there.
All the time, we meet people who don’t hold the same beliefs. For us to communicate effectively with those who are different to us, we need to establish common ground.
Share your ideas and stories. Take part in a dialogue, a conversation where you actively participate.
We need to practice this ability to connect with those who hold different worldviews.
It not only broadens our own perspective, but it makes the world a more interesting and empathetic place.
P.S. If you are interested in the science behind neural coupling, give this a watch.