A former high school classmate invited me to a Sunday get-together with other alumni. When I replied I may have other plans with my family, he begged me to cancel them. He urged I attend for the sake of our high school class. My family would understand.
This is peer pressure. It’s what happens when friends, acquaintances, co-workers, or who we call “peers” insist on one’s participation or agreement for a group event or activity.
Never mind what you feel. The peers seek simply your attendance and compliance. No is not an acceptable answer. Debate is out of the question. One just has to say yes, for the good of the peers.
Peer pressure disables individual proactivity or the person’s freedom to choose. It favours the peers’ priorities over your own. And in my case, it would stifle my Sunday plans.
How we respond to peer pressure reveals how strong we endear to our values. Sunday is a day I value with family. What I reply to my classmate would test that value.
Challenging peer pressure is challenging the peer, not the pressure. Clarify the peer’s purpose. Listen and empathize but don’t sympathize—peers pursue sympathy as a strategy. Insist to discuss even if the peer prefers not to and seek a win-win arrangement if possible.
Unfortunately, it often doesn’t get any further than clarifying. The peers would just assert. No flexibility. No negotiation. It leads to one making a decision. Yes or No. And if it’s a No, to sticking to it, despite the pressure. Despite even veiled threats or the warning of irreparable damage due to your intransigence.
I ended up saying No because I was sick.