Peer pressure is part of growing up. I wish that weren’t true as we grow older, but I think it’s just as much a reality for adults as it is for teens.
For some reason, some people feel compelled to tell us who our friends ought to be, what brand of jeans we should wear, whom we should date, and how we should deal with relationships, politics, money, faith, and so on. We’ve all been in that uncomfortable situation when we disagree with the “sage advice” we receive from our peers. Sometimes we push back, but other times, we’re reluctant to defend our beliefs out of fear or embarrassment.
How do you respond when you’re challenged to stand up for your beliefs or values?
Besides the pressure young adults receive from their peers, today’s colleges present a new form of pressure, and students had better be prepared for it! They’ve become increasingly more politicized than when I was in college, especially in the classroom. All too often, we hear stories of professors acting like agents of indoctrination (i.e., “You have a right to my opinion”) rather than agents of education where the objective is to present all sides of an issue. Has this been your (or your student’s) experience? Sadly, sometimes there is outright hostility, intimidation, and grading bias when students do not conform to their professors’ views.
There will also be instances on the job where we disagree with our manager or employer regarding a business practice or issue. As with the college professor situation, much may be at stake if an employee resists or pushes back.
These situations are difficult and need to be treated sensitively and carefully. Here are some tips for standing up for your beliefs and values when they are challenged:
· Know what your beliefs and values ARE. You need to know this before you can stand up for them!
· Always remember that you have every right to your opinion, and being able to share that opinion with respectful conviction will serve you well in life.
· You should respectfully confront such individuals in private to share your position and concerns (who knows, you might become a change agent yourself?).
· Be willing to walk. Remember, not everyone is meant to be your friend. And in job situations if there is significant conflict with your values, it may be time to move on to greener pastures.
Do you respect your beliefs and values enough to defend them in the face of hostility? How have you learned to communicate them clearly and stand up for them? We’d like to hear your advice and experiences!