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5 Reasons Middle Children Make Great Leaders

5 Reasons Middle Children Make Great Leaders

Are you tired of all the stereotypes about middle children being overlooked, overshadowed, lazy underachievers? This middle child is! I set out to find proof to offer to my older and younger siblings, as well as the world at large, why middle children make great leaders.

They are skilled peacekeepers.

Middle children have a unique position in the family, being closer in age to both older and younger siblings. Often the eldest and youngest are separated by so many years that they have little in common. They may attend different schools and not live in the home together as long as either does with the middle sibling. The middle child often relates well with those both above and below them on the birth order ladder. These relationships make them perfectly poised to keep the peace in the family.

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They are great negotiators.

Catherine Salmon, Ph.D. and co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, notes that middle children become good at negotiating due to their place in the family. She says that the firstborn is usually given more authority by the parents and, being older, they are often larger and stronger and use their size to get their way. The youngest often resort to whining as an effective way to get what they want. That leaves the middle child with fewer options, so he learns to figure out what others want and need, then devises a plan to meet those needs as well as their own.

These skills make middle children great leaders at work and serve them well when they have families of their own.

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They are more willing to follow their passion.

Being sandwiched in between the expectations parents attach to a first born and the often coddled youngest children, the middle child is simply, the middle child. There are few preconceived notions about what the middle child should do or be, other than act as placeholder for the older and younger siblings. For that reason, many believe middles have more leeway to follow their passion. Bill Gates, a middle child with both an older and younger sister, definitely fits the bill of following his passion and forging his own way. Football star Peyton Manning, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, singer Britney Spears are also notable middles following their passion and achieving great success. (Take that stereotype of middle children being lazy underachievers!)

They are willing to step into positions of power in order to create change.

Most people believe that firstborns hold more positions of authority. It makes sense if you think about how they have more power within the family because of their age and one might assume that would continue into adulthood. But did you know that more than half of U.S. Presidents were middle children, including John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt? Two notable change agents were also middles: Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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They are often nicer people.

According to preeminent birth-order researcher Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel, middleborns often rank highest on agreeableness during personality tests. In today’s culture of connection and transparency, that serves a middle child well. Gone are the days where CEOs made the rules and everyone followed. Today’s society wants leaders they can trust and relate to – being agreeable is a great place to start!

If you are a middle child, stand tall! Don’t feel like your parents neglected you if you got a little less attention than your older or younger siblings. They were simply empowering you to forge your own path and become an amazing leader. Sometimes being underestimated and flying under the radar is a wonderful thing.

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Featured photo credit: 11911-21/J.K. Califf via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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