Does birth order affect you in the workplace?


Want a better relationship with your boss, or at least a better understanding?

Quit trying to figure out her favorite latte and start evaluating her birth order.

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There really is some science behind birth order's affect on all manner of relationships, according to Real Simple, and workplace success and interaction is one of the areas susceptible to birth order's influence.

In a lot of cases, notes the magazine, these stereotypes are true:

  • Firstborn or only: Natural leader, ambitious, responsible
  • The middle child: Social butterfly, peacekeeper, fairness-obsessed
  • The baby: Free spirit, risk taker, charming

Studies publicized in Business Insider take these surface assessments of different birth orders even further. Their findings may help you understand your manager better, or at least predict his potential motivations. There's also value in seeing if any of the birth order traits apply to you and the role you'd like to fulfill on the management team.

"As always with psychological research, take these ideas with a grain of salt - for example, just because elder children are more likely to be leaders doesn't mean you can't be a CEO if you've got an older sibling," noted Business Insider.

In general though, if you or your boss fall in this birth order, the following traits are likely.

An oldest or only child:

More likely to be conventionally successful

Probably performed better in school

More likely to hold a leadership position

More likely to become a CEO or political leader, possibly due to thriving with lots of structure

A middle child:

More likely to help others

More likely to succeed in conventional ways

A youngest child:

More likely to take risks

More likely to participate in dangerous sports, like football or wrestling

More likely to be self-employed, which means you may not need to worry at all about your boss's birth order

Regardless of your birth order, if you're looking to make friends with your boss or manager, you may have better luck if they are the same birth order as you. 

One study shows that youngest children are likely to form close relationships with other youngest children, middle children with other middle children and so on. 

How your boss's birth order might get thrown off

Of course, the path of birth order analysis never did run smooth. If your understanding of the way birth order should impact your relationship with your manager isn't panning out, that's because any number or factors can throw the whole equation off, according to Real Simple.

For example, that leaderly, success-driven slot usually occupied by the oldest may get overtaken by another child. If the oldest doesn't act the part, "it creates a job vacancy," Catherine Salmon, Ph.D., a co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, told the magazine. "Donald Trump is a middle with a firstborn brother who didn't fit the role. Donald usurped it." 

In families with several middle children, the theory goes that each child attempts to be different than the sibling one ahead in the birth order. "If you had three middles, the first and third would likely be a bit more similar to each other than to the very middle child," Salmon said.

Other factors that throw off birth order influence include temperament, gender, physicality, age spacing and something called "specialness," according to Real Simple. "For the chosen one, being special will negate other birth-order things, like middle-child syndrome," according to psychologist Kevin Leman. If that happens, other siblings must adjust.


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