Marketing Eye

Why an only child can be hard work in the workplace

Having siblings often is an essential ingredient in helping a child navigate the world, teaching them how to share, be empathetic, and play well with others. With only children, there is less need to navigate the world as usually parents over compensate for the fact that they are the "one and only" child they have, and help make their lives as smooth and easy as possible. All of their attention goes on the child, and when the child asks for something, its hard to say no - afterall, you only have one child.

Only children are more often than not spoilt by their parents. 

When an only child enters the workforce, they realise quite quickly for the first time that they are no longer "special". They are only one of a team. They won't be treated differently and their expectatons are not only not met, but they are the first to let everyone know. Afterall, they have never been taught otherwise. And when they are challenged as to what is acceptable or not, they don't hold back - as they never have had to. At home, they have always been able to voice their opinion and then challenge the adult without ramification.

They get all of their parents attention 

All of their parents attention has been spent on them their entire lives, right into their adult life. When they haven't liked something, and voiced it, it has always been fixed. It has been reported significantly by Psychologists that only children are often loners and always self.

Only children are usually best as leaders of organisations than as part of the team, as they like to "tell people what to do". They have been doing it their whole life and have usually become quite accustomed to doing so. 

Tiger Woods was an only child

If you look at the fact that Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt, Jean Paul Sartre, Frank Sinatra and Tiger Woods are all only children. Tiger Woods is a classic example of an only child that feels entitled. All of his parents efforts has gone into helping him become a superstar golfer. It's no wonder he felt entitled to have extra marital affairs, given that he has always been entitled to do whatever he wants and has never had to consider another human being. Siblings help us become more empathetic and consider others, something that only children in general find hard to do.

Birth order affects the roles and positions we seek

It's been proven that birth order influences the roles and positions we seek in our careers and affect the way we interact.

While you cannot help the fact that you are an only child, what you can do is develop an awareness and learn to adapt in the workplace. Only children can use the advantage of having been exposed to a higher vocabulary due to how much time they have spent with adults as opposed to other children, as a key influence in being positioned for leadership roles. Likewise with your self confidence, which an only child usually has in spades, is useful for leadership roles. But only if you are able to climb the ladder and develop skills in team work, learning how to expand your social side and be more tolerant of others in the workplace.

I have had mixed results with only children in the workforce. While they often show maturity as they mostly spend time with adults, they often feel entitled and demand attention. As a leader, I find that they can "back answer" a little too much with no remorse, as they have been entitled to do it their whole life and they may never have been reprimanded for doing so. This doesn't work so well in the workplace where a leader asks for something to be completed, and an "only child" employee constantly was valid reasons according to themselves as to why they cannot do it. Simply, they just don't want to and they have never had to do something they don't want to do. 

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comment ( 1 )
  • Kittie Jerauld
    Kittie Jerauld
    31 Aug 2016

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