“I understand” can be two of the most divisive, insulting words strung together. In conflict resolution, they teach that magical phrase to disarm or pacify. But when two strangers are nose-to-nose in conflict and one utters those words, the other may snap “Do you?? Do you understand? You don’t know me”. So why would we use that phrase so casually, adopting an air of familiarity that is insincere as it is untrue. It’s as hollow a sentiment as “I’m sorry for your loss” or “thank you for your service”. You don’t know my pain and I won’t pretend to know yours.