We learn by adapting to new experiences. Persons who have never driven a car learn how to do so by driving one—a new experience for them to which they adapt by combining past experiences in novel ways. The more closely their past experiences resemble the operations required to drive a car, the easier those operations are to learn. Since many of us have steered bumper cars or similar vehicles in amusement parks, steering and braking a car are much easier to learn than shifting gears (especially on a stick shift) or backing into a parking space for which we have fewer analogous past experiences.
Mapping past experiences onto new ones is a vital aspect of learning. When I watched a Cricket match on TV for the first time with no prior experience of the game, as an American I tried to figure it out by mapping my experience of baseball onto the announcer’s narration. My initial attempts were mismatches. As I continued to watch, I revised my baseball template, noting its inadequacies, to make it a better match with Cricket. However inaccurate the resulting configuration, it is nonetheless the instrument of my understanding. The process of bridging the gap in my experiences is often a lengthy and time-consuming one. Patience and effort are required to redraw the “map” my past experiences to fit the new context.
Understanding people works the same way. People come to understand each other by narrating their experiences. These narrations evoke in listeners “scripts” (generalized sets of events) that allow them to map their experiences onto the narrators'. When a listener has not yet had or cannot have the experience the narrator recounts, the listener maps various partial experiences in a configuration suggested by the narration onto the narrator--much as I did listening to announcer's description of a Cricket game by mapping onto it my experiences of baseball.
The more we share experiences with other persons, the more likely it will be that mapping our past experiences onto theirs will help us understand them. Had I watched a softball game for the first time through the lens of hardball games I had seen, it would be easy to understand. Inversely, the less we share experiences with other persons, the less likely it will help us understand them and the more likely miscommunications will ensue. It was much more difficult to map baseball onto Cricket.