– Summary: We absorb others’ emotions and even their behaviors. To stay On Our Game we must notice when it happens and proactively manage it.

That’s right. We feel each other viscerally and instantaneously. We actually unite with others under our own skin. And it’s deep. This human-to-human orientation is built into the structure of our brains.

In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, Yuval Noah Harari points out that six types of sapiens originally evolved, independent of each other. That’s six versions of modern man that originally walked the earth. Today, there’s only one.

A prevailing theory about what happened to the other five is that they did not work together well in large groups. The other five human species failed to flexibly coordinate. They may have lacked the innate skill we have today to feel and resonate with others…and they died out because of it. That’s how profound this skill is to our survival – AND to our performance.

This brain-level interpersonal resonance happens across our senses—touch, sight, hearing and scent. Let’s explain touch and sight.


From just a one-second touch to their forearm, a stranger can accurately determine an anonymous person’s emotions about 50 to 60 percent of the time. Yes, you read that right—one second.

In the mere blink of an eye, we absorb someone else’s fear, anger, love, gratitude, or compassion. The likelihood of guessing right in this study, done by Dacher Keltner at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, was 8 percent.

And we know, “thanks to neuroscientist Edmund Rolls, that touch activates the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.” This means that we humans clearly and powerfully feel in a second, through a touch, what others are feeling, even without seeing them.

It’s primal and inescapable. Since the emotion may knock us Off Our Game, we need to recognize and manage it to stay on our path of achievement.


Now for eye contact. When we’re in focused, eye-to-eye conversations with each other, we synchronize brainwave frequencies in a process called resonance. Our brains are functioning as one when this happens. In a study conducted in Japan, ninety-six strangers were paired.

Researchers “had them maintain eye contact under various conditions while MRIs examined their brain activity.” Findings show that mutual eye contact binds two individuals into a “singular connected system.” A part of the brain called the inferior frontal gyrus was active, showing “inter-individual neural synchronization.” As researchers at Cornell University explain, “Eye contact produces a powerful, subconscious sense of connection that extends even to drawn or photographed eyes.”

Other people clearly influence us in a deep, often unconscious way. This is designed into the structure of our brains. We merge brainwave frequencies with others and feel what they are feeling, whether we want to or not. If it propels our motivation positively, we need to capitalize on it. If it negates our on-game performance, we need to minimize or dispense with it.

The key questions to ask ourselves are:

1. What types of social influences most strongly boost our focus and motivation?
2. How can we experience more of them?
3. Are the impacts we have on others what we want them to be?

See sister posts for more People-related Off-Game Impacts:
2. You’re influencing me. We adopt others’ behaviors, emotions, motivations, and goals.
3. Who impacted you? The influence of no interaction with people we don’t know.
4. Primed—I’m about to behave in a preplanned way, and I have no idea that it’s happening.

For a more thorough description, go to OnYourGame.Today.

Also see posts about how Culture and Technology can work to bump us of off our game.

As always, be in touch. We love to hear about your successes!

Send in game boards, stories or questions. Go to: OnYourGame.Today/Contact

SEE POST: #2 – You’re influencing me. We adopt others’ behaviors, emotions, motivations, and goals. (3 minute read)