Thoughts from the book When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up by Dr. Michael D. Sedler

Peer pressure doesn’t just happen among teenagers. Peer pressure can occur at all stages of life in many settings. Workplace peer pressure can feel especially painful because the stakes can feel higher.

We at Launch Leadership Development want to give you the tools to stand against peer pressure, which will be a valuable leadership skill down the road.

We are continuing our study of Dr. Sedler’s book When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up, and he has some strategies to deal with peer pressure:

Five Strategies to Withstand Peer Pressure:

  • Ask questions. This puts you in the place of power and them on the defensive. The more appropriate questions you ask, the more they will realize you won’t be easily swayed.
    • Questions such as, “And what is the plan if _____ happens?” make them think through consequences and holes in their plan will be shown or they will be in the position to speak aloud their unethical ideas.
  • Be aware of your pressure zones. Where do you receive the most pressure? From whom? When you are aware, you can prepare yourself for the situations.
  • Use the buddy system. Find support. If they can’t be with you, ask them to pray for you before going into a tough situation. Be accountable to them and tell them you will call them afterward and update them.
  • Say no as though you mean it. Do not mumble, act apologetic or wishy-washy. Maintain eye contact, be forceful and assertive. You don’t need to yell or argue. Don’t give a list of excuses. Use the broken record approach if they persist.  The less words you use, the more powerful you will appear.
  • Evaluate your friendships.  Do they share and support your values? Ask yourself how you can manage your circle of influence.

Dr. Sedler says, “Peer pressure often comes from people who have impure motives, and we must be a voice of action. A voice may be loud and convincing, but that doesn’t mean it should be followed. Throughout history silence has numbed our sensitivity. Speaking out is easy if the stakes are small and many support us. But what about when speaking out may cost us our job, reputation, or even our lives? A voice of action makes a difference in history.”

Great leaders stand up to peer pressure when they know the course of action to be wrong.  Great leaders stir up passion to do the right thing, no matter what the cost. Practice in small things, my friend, so that if you are ever in the position to stand against pressure where the stakes are high you will have the confidence and skills to withstand.

-Jan Jones