How many of you out there have experienced a situation like this? You are at the cafeteria with some of your colleagues, chatting away when suddenly a remark crops up: “I don’t like so-and-so’s working style. They are always nagging and overbearing.” Everyone else in the group agrees with the statement, laughs about the person’s work style, and picks on the defects. Yet, on the contrary, you find this person’s work style pretty good. However, you agree with everyone else because you feel pressured by your peers and want to fit in.
If yes, then know that you are not the only one who has experienced peer pressure. Humans are social animals, and they have an innate need to fit in with or belong to a particular group and follow the rules of that group. It is a survival instinct. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, says the need to belong has been seen as a basic human motivation.
Peer pressure can be defined as a phenomenon where one feels obligated to follow a group’s behavioral and action rules to fit in. Peer pressure isn’t limited to teenagers; unfortunately, it follows us into the office. It could be as simple as a co-worker bugging you to complete a task for them or being coerced into attending a social work gathering that you don’t want to attend.
Peer pressure is a double-edged sword. It can either lead to positive or negative consequences, depending on the context. For example, if your manager is forcing you to change your working style to meet their changing demands and needs, this can lead to a myriad of consequences, such as a loss of autonomy at work, the quality of the manager-employee relationship being affected, and the employee’s physical and mental well-being being compromised. The employee may comply to fit in at the organization; however, over time, it would result in a loss of motivation and productivity.
On the other hand, if your peer is wise, positive, and respectful, it can help you develop and grow as a professional. For example, if you have a habit of working over the weekend and overextending yourself, a mature and professional manager would encourage you to rest appropriately and improve your work-life balance.
What are the Effects of Peer Pressure?
Both types of peer pressure effects are subjective to your values and boundaries. However, here are some effects of positive peer pressure:
- It can inspire you to push your limits and perform better.
- Positive influence is a great leadership tool as it can effectively encourage your peers to upskill and strive to take on challenges.
- It fosters a positive work culture.
- It leads to better collaboration between teams.
- It makes individuals feel valued and supported.
On the flip side, here are some consequences of negative peer pressure:
- It lowers self-confidence and self-esteem levels in employees.
- Poor performance, as you start to prove your worth at work instead of focusing on the actual work.
- Increased anxiety and stress levels.
How can I deal with peer pressure?
Tackling peer pressure is easier said than done. However, here are 5 tips that will help you deal with the heat and stay true to yourself:
- Set clear boundaries and communicate them with confidence. Many of us find it difficult to say no to our bosses and co-workers. However, it is an essential professional skill. Let your bosses and colleagues know what you will and won’t do. If you are being pressured, master how to politely decline. Let them know if you have any prior commitments or simply have no space to take on more workload. If you are open to taking on more overload, inform them of the conditions and inquire about overtime pay or other forms of compensation.
- Plan your responses. Anticipate situations in which you may experience the heat of peer pressure and plan your responses accordingly. So, in case a situation arises, you are prepared to say no professionally and politely.
- Boost your self-confidence. You already know what is right for you and what is not. Trust your instincts and stick to your choices and decisions. For example, if your colleagues are going out for drinks after work and pressuring you to join them, let them know without hurting anyone’s feelings if you aren’t comfortable with it.
- Find your tribe. Surround yourself with individuals who value and respect your decisions and choices. Having allies in the workplace can be an asset when it comes to tackling peer pressure.
- Seek help when needed. If your supervisor or colleague is pressuring you to do a task that isn’t comfortable, speak to HR or a trusted peer about it and ask for their assistance. You don’t have to be alone in this situation.
Overall, the most important thing is to be true to yourself, especially when it is difficult to say no. Identifying peer pressure and avoiding its effects are worth it in the long run. It helps you maintain your core self and creates a healthier environment around you.
At KelpHR we believe that having a safe, inclusive and happy workplace is the key to businesstransformation and growth and physical as well as mental health and wellness is the key to healthy and happy employees and workforces.
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 10 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For our services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (D,E &I) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.