Last week, I went to a Super Bowl party where I had a fantastic time. By the 4th quarter, I already had a few drinks and had to drive home, but my buddies wanted have a few more. Using this incident, I will teach you how to deal with peer pressure verbally.
Near the end of the surprisingly exciting 4th quarter, someone suggested that we all play the drinking game “Hour of Power”, something I hadn’t done since college. Putting aside the fact that it’s been quite a few years since I was in college, I had to drive home, so I didn’t feel like getting drunk and spending the rest of the night sobering up.
Now, I’m the last person to suggest that one shouldn’t participate in life and in the things that other people want to do. In fact, I do want to say that part of living well and making the most out of life is participating in life and participating in the things that people do. Just participating.
If you have this attitude, that’s wonderful, and if you don’t, I hope you start to adopt this life-changing mindset of participating.
But that’s not what this article is about.
Having said all that, the key about participating is to participate because YOU want to, and not because OTHERS coerce you to or pressure you into it. Does that make sense?
On this website and in my videos and books, I talk a lot about verbal self defense, and while it may seem that verbal self defense is only about dealing with verbal attacks and insults, it actually is not.
Part of learning verbal self defense is also learning how to use your verbal skills to get out of bad situations, including how to deal with peer pressure.
By bad situations, I don’t merely mean being peer pressured into drinking.
Sometimes, peer pressure involves things beyond binge drinking. It might involve using drugs, smoking, your choice of friends, fashion choices, and more.
Peer pressure can get much worse than that believe it or not. I’ve heard of people, like siblings of friends, who have gone to jail because they were pressured into committing a crime with other people. Now, that’s some really serious stuff I hope none of you will ever get into.
And, I bet that every time someone gets peer pressured into doing something they don’t want to do, it is not because they lack willpower, but because they don’t have the verbal skills necessary to deal with peer pressure.
In other words, they don’t know how to deal with peer pressure.
So without further ado, here is a two-part formula for how to deal with peer pressure:
Formula = Pro-Actively Declare A “Weakness” + Mention Another Plan Of Action
A lot of people think that to deal with peer pressure, you should just blame it on someone else like your parents or your significant other, or some circumstances, like needing to drive home.
However, I personally don’t think that’s a good idea.
You want to take ownership of your decision. If you blame your decision on someone else or outside circumstances, that will actually invite others to press you further.
Make sure you take ownership of your decision. So, the first part of this formula is to “take the winds out of their sails” by pro-actively declaring yourself weak or whatever you think will accuse you of.
Now keep this in mind: The idea behind this part of the formula isn’t really for you to actually admit a weakness. You’re merely trying to deflate any accusation that might come your way by stating it first. When pro-actively declaring your “weakness”, you want to say it in an amused or even a slightly sarcastic tone, so it’s clear don’t really mean it.
Here’s some examples:
Now, the second part of the formula is to say something which indicates you have another plan other than the plan that the others have. This could mean you saying that you will participate in some other way, like saying you’ll take a video or take pictures of everyone drinking. If that’s the case, you just say “Instead, I’m going to take the pictures while you guys do that”.
Now, keep in mind that this tip doesn’t apply when it comes to criminal activity. Don’t participate in any way if this is the type of peer pressure you’re dealing with.
The other way to “mention another plan of action” is to verbally remove yourself from the activity.
For example: “I’m going to go over and talk to those girls” or “I’m going to head home.” Keep in mind that when you have a plan for yourself, then others can’t impose their plan on you. If you have no plan, then it makes it easy for others to impose their ideas on you.
So, add up those two parts of the formula and there you have it: a concrete action plan for verbally deflecting peer pressure. Hope that helps! If you have any questions, ask me down below in the comments.
Min Liu is a corporate lawyer, Amazon #1 bestselling author, and the founder of The Art of Verbal War, where people learn to EXCEL in verbal skills. Based in San Francisco, CA, Min's burning ambition is to teach like-minded people how to give their gifts and value to the world by helping them become EXCEPTIONAL in verbal skills, persuasion, influence and power. In the words of his readers, he's the "older brother you've never had", and as a real-life big brother himself, his mission is to show you the ropes in all the things school never taught you.