Have you ever walked into a room full of people and felt really uncomfortable yet couldn’t pinpoint why? Or have you had the experience of joining a group where the feeling was positive and welcoming and you immediately became infected by an ineffable sense of well-being. If you have experienced either of these situations you have encountered what psychologists refer to as an affective state, or a state of awareness that may be pre-cognitive. When something is pre-cognitive it means that information is being perceived, shared, and processed unconsciously and is not yet available to our cognitive or conscious thinking functions. In essence you are having a shared experience, being a part of a collective, being one with the herd, the flock, the school, or the tribe. Sometimes it is pleasant and other times it is uncomfortable.
While scientists are pursuing studies on topics associated with perception and neuroscience, we mere mortals often continue to struggle with some of our affective perceptions, especially in the workplace. Sometimes we are conscious of these feelings and we might refer to them as a “hunch”, “gut feeling”, “intuition”, or we might try to ignore them altogether because we can’t classify them, rationalize them, or make logical use of them.
We humans have evolved a significantly different skillset from other mammals – that of verbal language. It may be that this higher order communication skill comes with a cost – that of a loss of awareness of the information sharing that occurs through non-verbal means. Another cost is possibly the false bias that we are rational beings that experience emotions instead of the fact that we are emotional beings that are capable of rational thought. […]