Ever wonder why your co-worker walks into your cubicle, barely greets you, but asks you for help?  Conversely, ever have a co-worker ask you about your kids, your weekend and everything else… and you wonder, “Is there a point to this?”

A lack of understanding between co-worker personalities had led to more than one office clash.  There will always be conflict (it’s work, after all), but what if you could understand what makes people tick and adjust the way you handle situations?

According to companies specializing in “people solutions,” such as Insights, getting along with more people helps you do well at work.  Here are some do’s and don’ts for key types.

The Motivating Decision Maker

Usually, this person is the leader or manager in your office – a person who want the bottom line to take action and motivate a team.

  • Do: Get to the point right away and offer suggestions for next steps
  • Don’t: Create extraneous chit chat or ramble in email

The Observant Data Head

More than likely the head of research is not chatty but likes a lot of information.  This person wants to understand as much as possible to create a thorough observation and big picture to determine what should happen next.

  • Do: Answer all questions and email supporting documents for background
  • Don’t: Ask for something without at least a little explanation

The Inspiring Collaborator

Sales people, for example, often get along with everyone and bring teams to consensus.  They like personal details to help people feel included.

  • Do: Socialize, ask about the weekend and greet them warmly
  • Don’t:  Be cold or exclude them from relevant and/or group decisions in person or in email

The Supportive Helper  

The human resources department is usually filled with this type of person.  They care about how people treat one another to support a culture of respect and valued assistance.

  • Do:  Interact sincerely in person and in email
  • Don’t:  Dive into tasks and requests without establishing and buidling a strong working relationship

Many companies go beyond testing types to invest in team building programs, such as Geoteaming and the Corporate Learning Institute; there are also books, such as Corporate Characters.  Whether you’re part of a company program or you do your own research, think about the types of people in your office.  Of course, remain professional at all times and be aware of personal TMI (too much information), but consider that it might be a good investment in your career to know who’s who – and why.