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Miscommunication happens all the time: when your boss doesn’t really understand the “awesomeness” of your idea, when a co-worker mistakes a harmless joke for a targeted insult, or when a client assumes your short email response means you’re not interested in working with him or her. Despite how many times we explain ourselves, sometimes things just don’t come out the way we intend them to.

So, why is this such a common problem when we all speak the same language?

Because communication’s an extremely complex process—one that is shaped not just by the person speaking, but everyone else involved. Each person brings his or her own biases, lenses, and opinions to any given conversation.

For us to begin to understand each other a little bit better, we must learn how to actively listen and keep an open mind (and practice a little thing called empathy). Watch this TED-Ed video to get started.