When we’re learning to use the Platinum Rule, we are often unsure of how to proceed because we don’t know how our colleagues want to be treated. It doesn’t have to be a guessing game, though; the concept of work styles takes most of the guesswork out of learning how our colleagues would like to be treated. Work styles are the way in which we think about, organize, and complete our tasks. There are four key styles, which are outlined in this article.

Logical, Analytical, and Data-Oriented

Someone with a logical, analytical, and data-oriented work style is at their best when processing data and solving complex problems. They will focus like a laser to achieve any stated goal or outcome and will ensure that you always stay on budget. They tend to focus on “what” questions. They want you to focus on the data and the facts, so you need to be brief, succinct, clear, and precise. You should make sure to present ideas in a logical format when sharing with these colleagues, and, in written communication, ensure that you are direct, to the point, and technically accurate.

Some people you might recognize with this work style…

Sheldon Cooper, from The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is all about the facts. He wants to know exactly what is going on, and he doesn’t do well with sarcasm or emotions. He focuses on the goal until the project is done, and he is the king of logical thinking. Who can forget his sleepless pursuits to support his Nobel Prize research or the many instances in which Penny uses sarcasm to stymie him or tease him?

Amy Farrah-Fowler, from The Big Bang Theory. Amy tends to consider the data and very little else. An example of this is when she begins dating Sheldon and, with his help, reduces their relationship to a contractual agreement intent on procreation. Amy does not always understand social cues but loves to get right to the point of any and all situations.

Raymond Holt, from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Holt strips every situation down to the facts and often disturbs his coworkers with his intent on logic. He is laser-focused on becoming the next commissioner of the NYPD, and he requires that his colleagues be brief and precise in all communications with him.

Organized, Plan-Focused, and Detail-Oriented

Someone with an organized, plan-focused, and detail-oriented work style is at their best when establishing order from chaos, outlining project plans, and creating to-do lists. They will ensure that work is completed accurately and on time. This colleague tends to focus on the “how” questions. They want you to stay on topic, avoid digressions, present ideas in a sequential, organized manner, and provide detailed timelines. They also appreciate detailed references and explanations of any rules, procedures, or processes that may impact the project. In written communication, they appreciate outlines of main points and a clear statement of action steps and due dates.

Some people you might recognize with this work style…

Amy Santiago, from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Amy is the poster-child for this work style. She  has a binder for every situation and loves to pull it out at an opportune time. She works tirelessly for her goals and hates distractions. She loves rules and procedures. Due dates are among her favorite things in the world. She is organized to a fault and cannot comprehend anyone who is not.

Monica Geller, from Friends. Monica also has a binder for every situation, including, most memorably, her own wedding. She loves to organize and clean, whether it be putting the CDs in alphabetical order or prototyping the scrapbooks. Monica says check after packing each item in her suitcase and encourages her friends to stay focused any time she is able to steer them in that way. She is the leader of the group and always has a plan.

Leslie Knope, from Parks and Recreation. Leslie also has a binder for every situation, in addition to checklists for every task. She makes clear notes of all rules and procedures and follows them to the letter. She steers her department to focus on the goal of helping the community even when there are major distractions. Her ideal date night with her husband is making a detailed action plan.

Supportive, Expressive, and Emotionally-Oriented

Someone with a supportive, expressive, and emotionally-oriented work style is an expert in relationship-building and is at their best when facilitating team interaction and selling ideas. They will keep stakeholders up to date on work and effectively communicate ideas throughout the organization. This colleague typically focuses on the “who” questions. They want the conversation to be kept informal, open, and warm. They do not appreciate any hidden agendas. They tend to think about the impact of projects on others and how they will feel about it. They want to know who is involved in projects and they want team members to have equal consideration when plans are being made. In written communication, make sure to include a salutation and point of personal connection before transitioning to the e-mail’s primary topic.

Some people you might recognize with this work style…

Jessica Day, from New Girl. Jess is passionate about making others feel loved and   included. Memorably, when asked how she gets anything done, just walking around thinking about people’s feelings, Jess says, “It’s hard!” She appreciates warmth and kindness in all situations and is always the first to bake a pan of brownies or spearhead an initiative to support equality.

Kelly Kapoor, from The Office. Kelly communicates constantly and greatly appreciates informal and warm conversations. She never wants to feel like she’s being tricked, and she is the first to pipe up to ask who is involved in a specific task. She asks often to be addressed on a personal level before being addressed as an employee. Who can forget her shunning Dwight and Jim for forgetting about her party?

Penny, from The Big Bang Theory. Penny cares a lot about how others’ actions make her friends and colleagues feel, and she is most successful in her career when her career revolves around interacting with others and selling new technologies and ideas. She does not like formal settings and is the first to crack a joke or a smile in such settings. She prefers casual and warm environments.

Strategic, Integrative, and Idea-Oriented

Someone with a strategic, integrative, and idea-oriented work style often serves as a catalyst for change, brainstorming solutions to problems and synthesizing disparate thinking. This colleague drives innovation, ensures variety in both thought and execution, and keeps the team moving forward. Someone with this work style tends to focus on the “why” questions. They appreciate minimal details, big picture visuals and metaphors, and clear articulation of how the project aligns with the organization’s strategy. In written communication, they appreciate the big picture and context for the e-mail, without too many details.

Some people you might recognize with this work style…

Schmidt, from New Girl. Schmidt loves to look at the big picture and to brainstorm        solutions to the quirky problems facing him. In his all-female office, he is constantly coming up with ideas for how to make changes and push forward. He likes big metaphors and visuals and always wants to know how his actions should fit into the larger picture.

Jim Halpert, from The Office. Jim asks “why” questions constantly, and looks to make improvements within the office whenever he can. He also works to keep the group moving forward. He is interested in the broader strategy of the company rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day hubbub and chaos.

Rachel Green, from Friends. Rachel likes to look at the big picture and understand how her role fits into the bigger scheme of things. She likes to introduce new ideas and appreciates a wide variety of opinions that can help to keep things moving along.

By looking at these sitcom characters, hopefully you are able to identify yourself and some of your colleagues. It is with a good understanding of work styles that we are able to move toward better execution of the Platinum Rule.


Ready to learn more about your Productivity Style and productivity best practices that will work for you? Click here for our Productivity Style Assessment.


Carson serves as a consultant to executives at Fortune 500 companies. The author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, her views have been included in Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review blog, and The New York Times.


  • Carson Tate

    Productivity Consultant •Speaker • Author • Leadership Coach