But obviously nobody ever uses this phrase to mean that they literally know where you are coming from in a geographic sense. If you actually take things this literally you presumably can never have a single conversation without getting confused or annoyed. Communication is not about the literal meaning of the things we say, it's about conveying a point in the most effective way. The most effective way is rarely the most direct and literal way.
Originally Posted by RageAndLov
With this phrase, as has already been mentioned, it's often a way of gently preparing to rebuff someone's statement. It's a way of showing that you understand why they may hold a certain opinion before making it clear that you don't share it. It's particularly good when someone has expressed prejudice towards perhaps an ethic group or something similar, and you know that this person has been mistreated in the past by people belonging to this group. This phrase basically acknowledges that you accept the person has cause to feel negatively but that the negativity is being directed unfairly. It's a good phrase.
“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.” – Bill Hicks