Several years ago Transport for London, the organisation which manages the public transport for England’s capital, unveiled this poster. It seems that they were experiencing a spate of ticket dodgers. Their aim, I guess, was to make putative freeloaders sufficiently uneasy about the risk of not purchasing a valid ticket that they would refrain. I have no idea how successful the campaign was - probably not hugely, as I didn’t see it run again. But it made me think. We like to think we’re distinct, special, irreplaceable. And in some ways we are. But, in others, we’re actually very, very similar.

How closely would you say you resemble a pebble? You probably wouldn’t even deign to respond to such a foolish question. And you’d be right. What about a banana. Now you’re affronted. What a ridiculous comparison. I eat bananas, I don’t resemble one. But what if I said that, in one significant way at least, you are 50% banana. Banana man - sounds like a wacky comic superhero. But in terms of genetic material, you and a banana share 50%.

0% Common Genes: A Human and a Pebble

genes pebble

50% Common Genes: A Human and a Banana

genes banana 1

90% Common Genes: A Human and a Cat

genes cat 1

99% Common Genes: A Human and a Chimp

genes chimp 1

>99.9% Common Genes: A Human and a Human

genes human

As Process Safety Professionals, we’re often seen as the bad guy (or gal). We’re the opposite of ‘the bank that like to say yes’. We’re the kill-joys, the pedants, the cheerless gamekeepers. In a training session I ran recently, one of the delegates mused that his PS department was located on the same floor and Internal Audit and Lawyers (archetypal ‘No Guys’). But what if we used the above genetic information to our advantage. If your genotype differs from everyone else on the planet by 0.06% (Every 1499 of each 1500 of your genes is identical to 7 billion other people), then it makes sense that how you would feel about and therefore react to a situation is, by and large, the same way as anyone else. Ta-dah! You’re a mind reader and you didn’t even know it.

I don’t know about you (well, actually, it seems, I do), but I respond well to some behaviour and poorly to others. I appreciate it when people and friendly and relaxed with me. I like it when I feel that my concerns are being listened to. I positively glow when my endeavour is praised rather than my success. However I dislike being ordered aggressively to do things. I feel uncomfortable if information is stated rather than explained. I reject being made to feel part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

If you want to get the best out of people, just imagine how you would feel if your behaviour were directed at yourself. And then make your move. It could save lives.

same brain