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Middle Child Syndrome? 15 Things Only Middle Children Will Understand

Middle Child Syndrome? 15 Things Only Middle Children Will Understand

On the big stage of life, we tend to NOT be the main act.  Are we happy to be the center of attention at the after party?  No, not that either.  We middle born are content to conduct the whole performance without accolades but with a sense of fulfillment that comes from a lifetime of patience and perseverance.  Known as the diplomats of birth order, we have the ability to approach others in a conciliatory manner and bring together successful outcomes without the angst of being the “needy baby” or the contentious firstborn.

1.  Middle of the pack?  We like it!

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    Forced by circumstance to wait behind an alpha child, then wait while the omega child caught up, we found our niche moving within a pack.  Our parents tended to let us excel at our own pace (no attention span left for us) and with that came the chance to actually understand what gave us the most satisfaction.  One successful middle who took of advantage of this and freely explored the world and his potential was none other than Theodore Roosevelt Middle trivia:  Of all the presidents since 1787, 52% have been middle children.

    2.  The good stuff is always in the middle.

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      All middles know that the juicy tidbits of life are buried within the crusty confines of family drama.  It’s that knowledge that allowed us to be eager recipients of older siblings’ rants (messy and valuable family details to be exploited later) as well as the soothing listener to the over-indulged baby (if the baby got something, then we all did just to be fair.)  Our siblings gave us the first taste of getting “something for nothing” in the way of information or product.  We learned at their sides that we didn’t have to be LOUD to be successful; we could quietly take advantage of a situation without threatening our own well-being.  One quiet but determined entrepreneur was very good at this!  Bill Gates

      3.  Middle Child Syndrome Misconceptions

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        Can’t we all just get along?  This phrase may be mostly what middle children are known for; media depictions of the oft neglected “other child” have helped to cement that status.  These CRAZY CHARACTERS aren’t indicative of real life success but add to the stereotype of what it means to be a middle child.  Although the lackluster middles may make the most noise about being ignored, etc., statistics prove they’re well prepared to be as successful or more so than their siblings.  READ MORE

        4.  Creative is our middle child name!

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          Who has time to be creative in today’s world?  Um, we middles have always had the advantage of time.  Whether we were stuck waiting with our parents for the older child’s activities to finish OR waiting around for the younger one to catch up, we were stuck!  All of that extra time honed our patience and also expanded our imagination.  Whether art, literature, or gaming, we got in a lot of time-filling practice.  Middle trivia:  Madonna, Julia Roberts, David Letterman are later born creatives.

          5.  Pressure points

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            Common sense dictates that if something is going to explode, it will go through the top and/or bottom.  And we learned this early on by watching the tribulations of our siblings.  The eldest was often held to an unrealistic expectation of success and when they fell short, kaboom!  The youngest was prone to playing “catch up” with the hindrance of age and inexperience catapulting them to failure…kaboom!  We middles are known to complain about never being noticed for our accomplishments but we enjoy our pressure free zone, failing or succeeding at our own pace.

            6.  Measuring Expectations of Middle Children

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              It’s happened to all of us later born children.  If we attend the same school as our older sibling(s) then their success or lack thereof is tied to our perception.  Teachers tend to remark early on about our differences and then we are exposed to that bias.  We have been put on notice that we will be be observed NOT for our contributions but how we compare to our sibling.  UNFAIR!  But that’s life and we middles learned to accept it early on.  Fortunately, scientific research has yet to prove a perceptible difference in IQ due to birth order.  At most, they think it may cause a 1 point reduction in IQ for each subsequent later born child.  And how do most middles respond to that?  Who cares.  The study was probably done by a first born anyway….

              7.  Births of a feather flock together.

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                Years of dealing with family dynamics, the highs and lows of birth order, we who are middle born tend to find ourselves later with others of the same mindset.  In fact, recent studies point to the fact that we are drawn to people who reflect our experiences and values.  Could that mean that our natural tendency to be conciliatory would lead us to more successful relationships than our brethren?  The jury is still out on that one but it doesn’t stop this ONLINE dating service from offering its advice to the lovelorn.

                8.  Can I add “middle” to my résume?

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                #workplace station MGD©

                  The workforce is finally recognizing our many talents!  We are a valuable commodity to employers and it’s time to make room on the job application for birth order.  With references like THESE, we should be able to occupy the corner office in record time!

                  9.  Forget the high ground, we rule Middle Earth!

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                    Since ALFRED ADLER introduced his birth order theories in 1928, siblings have been categorized according to an accident of  timing.  Middle borns have become stereotyped as the “sandwich” child, the diplomat, or the rebel.  For the most part, we have kept the peace (in true fashion) and not made much fuss about our lot in life.  Some even argue that we have SECRET POWERS and that in itself is a departure from our obscurity.

                    10.  Surprise!  We middle children don’t care that much.

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                      We are in the middle of making a living, forming relationships, educating ourselves and becoming productive world citizens.  One thing that we rarely do is FRET over our birth order.  It is interesting to see others relegate us to the forgotten category of family member.  Although it makes for good copy, middle borns aren’t out in droves protesting against our elder and younger siblings.  What we understand is that everyone can struggle to find where they belong in the grand scheme of things.  Our perspective is broad based and if that is because of our birth order, who cares?  We’re happy to share our good fortune.

                      11. Middle children don’t depend on an arbitrary number to get our point across.  Who needs 15 points when 11 will do just fine.

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                      Last Updated on January 15, 2019

                      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                      Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

                      In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                      Step right up, don’t be shy!

                      Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

                      The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

                      Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

                      Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
                      So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

                      A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

                      Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

                      Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

                      When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

                      Culturally Conditioned

                      We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

                      I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

                      The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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                      Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

                      Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

                      Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

                      1. Broadens Your Network

                      After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

                      2. Improves Your Communication Skills

                      I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

                      Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

                      3. Continually Learning

                      So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

                      Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

                      4. Increases Self Confidence

                      Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

                      Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

                      So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

                      How to Talk to Strangers

                      Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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                      1. Say Hello

                      Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

                      Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

                      Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

                      2. Ask About Them

                      Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

                      You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

                      As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

                      3. Just Do It

                      One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

                      When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

                      Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

                      4. Don’t Take It Personal

                      One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

                      When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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                      5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

                      I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

                      One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

                      6. Detach

                      A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

                      Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

                      7. Share Your Stories

                      Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

                      To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

                      So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

                      8. Give a Compliment

                      Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

                      When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

                      9. Relax Your Body Language

                      If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

                      When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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                      If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

                      10. Practice, Practice, Practice

                      Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

                      Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

                      After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

                      The Bottom Line

                      As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

                      There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                      Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

                      Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

                      More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

                      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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