Almost at every level of human existence, peer influence happens. Little kids, youths, young adults and grow-ups are all influenced one way or the other by the friends that surround them. While almost every category of persons goes through this, not everyone is able to handle the pressure or influence wisely. For youths and young adults, the situation could even be more delicate as they happen to be in critical developmental and decision-making periods of their lives. For everyone and anyone, it is important to know how to deal with peer influence in the right and constructive way. Peer influence can either be positive and negative, therefore, it should not only be about overcoming negative peer influence but knowing how to respond to positive influence as well. Inability to effectively handle peer influence will mean that a person will likely not have a mind of his or her own. While you get pushed into things by other people, when consequences come, you are more at the receiving end, the people who pushed you may not own up to the fact that they pushed you into it. You should therefore have a mind of your own and know what exactly to do when you are under pressure to get into things. The following are some of the best tips on dealing with peer influence.
1. Dare to stand alone
One of the reasons why negative peer pressure affects people at times is because they don’t have the courage it takes to stand alone. The fear of what might happen to them should they refuse or the desire to just feel among and belong to a class of people they consider classy might make them to concede to things they should otherwise reject. You should be a person with a backbone, able to stand alone, even if your friends say all sort of things. You should sum up all the likely insults and consequences for your refusal to do whatever they are doing which you don’t want to do and brace your mind-set up for the challenge. If you keep living to please others so they can accept, hail or like you, or if you keep living in fear of others, what they might do to you should you turn their offers down, then you are not living your own life, you are only a follow-follow kind of person. These are decisions you might live to regret if you make the wrong choice now, so dare to stand alone.
2. Have the right people around you
You can minimise the pressure of negative peer influence by being very selective about who you allow to be your friend, be careful about the type of persons you grant access to become part of your inner circle. Watch your circle of friends, make sure they are people with similar values and mind—sets as you, not those who would only suggest unnecessary or outright bad things to you. When you surround yourself with people who have same values as you do, then you will even be able to say your ‘No’ in a firmer way to bad influences because you know that you are not standing alone. You watch each other’s back.
3. Confront the person
You can decide to speak to the person who is always trying to create the pressure in a polite but clear and firm manner. Let him/her know what you stand for and let him/her know that you don’t appreciate the pressure, you don’t want it and you will appreciate if he/she stops. Do this in a way that won’t ignite anger or look too confrontational, speak to the person one on one and bare your mind to him/her.
4. Think it over
Any decision that you are being so pressured to make on the spot may not likely be the best. No matter how much pressure a person is putting on you to do something, go somewhere or to be a part of a thing, don’t be too quick to accept on the spot. Tell the person or people involved to give you time to think it over, ensure you do this especially if you notice they are trying to put you under a pressure that you are not comfortable with or that smells of ulterior motive. Taking time away from the pressure zone will afford you the clarity of mind to think things over properly and to consult people you may want to consult.
5. Get busy
Another way not to have time for unnecessary pressure coming from friends is to get busy doing some other things that add value and are worth your time. Be busy, engage yourself, and when they come with this invitation and that other suggestion that you are not comfortable with, tell them you will be engaged at the time. When they know you are always busy with some other things, they will likely reduce their disturbances. But if you are always free, then you won’t have a good excuse to turn down some unnecessary invitations or engagements. Don’t be so available.
6. Appreciate good influence
It’s not every form of peer influence that is bad, you should be able to accept and appreciate good peer influence. Knowing how to recognise good counsel and pressure is important. Imagine you are supposed to do something that’s important but dragging back on it, if a friend of yours should mount pressure on you to do the needful in that case, you should be able to allow such influence, and even let the person know that you appreciate such concern.
7. Use affirming body language
When you are saying no, and your body language is not affirming that ‘no’, then you might be passing the wrong message and the person bringing the offer may think that you don’t mean what you are saying. If you make your ‘no’ as firm as possible with an affirmative body language, that will make your friends know that you mean your decision.
8. Discuss it with someone
Tell someone trustworthy and competent enough to handle the situation about the pressure you are going through. Someone like your parents, guardians, trustworthy elders. Let them know what you are going through and the person(s) mounting the negative pressure on you.
9. Repeat your stand
Be deliberate about repeating your decision and stand as many times as necessary. If you are being wooed over and over into something you don’t want, don’t let their persistence weaken your decision, keep repeating your decision as many times as necessary and keep your ‘no’ firm and clear.
9. Avoid the negative zone
You likely know the person or group of persons wanting to influence you negatively. You should avoid places and situations that can give them opportunity to disturb you again. Avoid them as much as possible. Don’t do this out of fear but do it to reduce disturbance.
10. Check yourself
If there are ways in which you are mounting pressure on your friends, if they are not okay with it, you should just stop it already. Even when you are trying to have a positive influence, do it in a way that will make the other person appreciate it and ensure you don’t influence your pals into doing something bad or anything questionable. While you don’t want to be negatively influenced, don’t influence others negatively too.