How to SAY NO to Peer Pressure?

Feb 25, 2022
Adult peer pressure, which is many a time unspoken peer pressure is not only toxic for mental health but also for the person's family.

Handling Adult Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is the direct or indirect influence on people of peers, members of social groups with similar interests, experiences, or social statuses. Members of a peer group are more likely to influence a person's beliefs and behavior.

Sometimes this pressure is explicit. For instance, when someone is directly asked to do something or to be somewhere. Other times it is implied, that is when we start overthinking about a situation or an indirectly asked question. In either case, it raises our stress level and sometimes pushes us to do things we don't want to do.

Studies show that a person’s ability to resist peer pressure increases during their teenage years. Once the person hits 18 years of age the ability seemingly stagnates. As a result, their risk of giving in remains constant throughout young adulthood.

So the question that arises: How to handle peer pressure, whether it’s indirect or direct?

Peer Pressure starts with a question. The question can be Hey would you like to come to the party? (social pressure) OR How about you take up this upcoming meeting? (work pressure)


However, feeling peer pressure isn't always a result of a direct question. Sometimes it is indirect or implied. For example, statements such as, “I was hoping to assign you this project", "Everyone will be coming tonight."  These may not directly ask you to do something but you know what the implied message is behind such statements.

The moment you feel pressure when such statements or questions are directed towards you, you will simply say ‘NO’ (see it’s that simple!)

Lesson 1: Learn to say ‘NO’.

What’s the biggest mistake you’re making?

The biggest mistake we make after refusing is providing an explanation or a reason. Why do we do this? Because we feel obliged to give an explanation, when in reality it’s not at all necessary. 

Now once you‘ve given a reason for refusing, you trap yourself. The other person will counter you by asking more questions or attempting to solve the problem. Eventually, this person's counterarguments may elicit feelings of guilt and you will end up accepting what they want.

Lesson 2: Do not give a reason for your ‘NO’.

The shocking fact about YOUR BRAIN!

Did you know, you decide before you come up with a reason? Yes, it sounds strange but it’s true. We just come up with reasons to support our decision. That means our reasons are secondary and not important, hence we don’t need to share them at all.

Lesson 3: Our emotions come before we even think of reasons.

At this point, people usually come up with either of the two questions.

Question 1: How do I say NO without sounding like a jerk?  

The easiest way to handle this is to BE POLITE. Here are three examples:

  1. SMILE: If you are chatting on text then send a ‘smiley face’ and if it is in person then simply smile and say NO.
  2. SAY THANK YOU: Either at the start or end of your refusal thank the person for approaching you.
  3. COMPLIMENT THEIR WORK: Appreciate the other person for the work they are doing. This will not only help them have confidence in their work, but it will make it easier for you to say NO.


Question 2: How do I say NO when I am so scared to do so?

Well, this kind of question arises due to disempowerment. In such scenarios, one should undergo a set of exercises which includes rewiring of the brain to improve self-worth and enhance self-esteem so that one doesn't feel disempowered.

So how have you decided to overcome peer pressure?