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Know Your Co-Workers Beyond the Cubicle

Published on May  2, 2019, at 3:16 p.m.
by Whitney Blalock.

The phrase “know your audience” is ingrained into the minds of young public relations practitioners. You have to identify your audience’s age, socioeconomic status, political views — the list goes on — to craft effective messages to reach them. If PR practitioners focus so heavily on understanding target audiences and creating messages that resonate with them, why do they spend much less time understanding their co-workers and what clicks with them?

Odds are, if you ask anyone working on a specific client team, they can paint a perfect picture of what their target audience looks like. However, if you were to ask them to describe their co-workers in that same way, you’d probably receive an “ummm” and a brief, cookie-cutter answer.

Getting to know your co-workers not only enhances work experiences but also can increase productivity, collaboration and so much more. Here are a few ways to understand your co-workers almost as well as you know your target audience:

Make more than small talk.
Remember that your co-workers are more similar to you than you might think. Yes, you work in the same office, but you might have similar interests, shared travel experiences or the same taste in music. Ask your co-workers intentional questions, things beyond, “What’s the weather like today?” or “What did you have for lunch?”

Making more than small talk can lead to learning new things about each other that you normally never would have shared. Knowing the names of your co-worker’s children or pets, their favorite candy, guilty habits or even what frustrates them the most will help you understand them better.

Once a relationship with your co-workers has developed beyond surface level, ideas can flow more freely, collaboration increases and the workplace may even seem more inclusive. Comprehending facets of a co-worker’s personality can help the two of you collaborate and work together easier.

Know their personality types.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a great way to learn many things about your co-workers’ personalities. The whole office can take the test, share their results and begin to understand each other on a deeper level. Myers-Briggs types reveal personal and work-related habits, helping co-workers form authentic relationships not just focused on working together.

If you know one of your co-workers is introverted and recharges by taking a personal lunch break to decompress, then you would know to not pressure them into grabbing lunch with colleagues. Being aware of what your co-workers like and don’t like can go a long way.

Coffee isn’t the only option.
The tried and true “let’s get to know each other” go-to is a quick coffee date. While lattes and coffeehouse music might be your thing, there is a chance that isn’t your co-worker’s cup of tea.

Original ideas — going on a walk, starting a book or article club, trying new restaurants in town during your lunch break — will create new experiences for the two (or more) of you, giving you something to talk about in the future as well.

Try these tips to get to know your co-workers a little bit better. Developing a deeper understanding of your co-workers — what they like, what makes them tick and what makes them who they are — will be beneficial, just like understanding the target audience.

Understanding your co-workers and familiarizing yourself with them on a personal level create productive environments where collaboration is effortless. Knowing your target audience like the back of your hand is vital, so take knowing your co-workers just as seriously.

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