Controlling yourself from peer pressure by work colleagues – how you can cope!


What is Peer pressure?

Peer pressure is when group of peers start exerting influence to persuade us to change our attitudes, values, or behaviour so that we meet their desired group norms. Unfortunately peer-pressure doesn’t stop at school. It follows us right through to the workplace.

Various instances of peer pressure can occur at work. For example it may be that a co-worker wants you to go out for drinks after work but you don’t really want to, may be continuous junk mails circulating around the office that try and capture your attention or could be from a co-worker asking you to cover their shift for them. These are just a few examples of peer-pressure occurring in the workplace.

Is it natural to feel this way?

It is only natural to want to be popular and accepted by your peers at work. Influence from your peers shouldn’t be viewed as necessarily a problem. Take the illustration of a butcher sharpening a knife. The butcher turns a blunt knife into a sharp knife ready to cut. If your work peers have mature, professional and respectful attitudes in the workplace, they can actually help sharpen your knowledge, skills and abilities in the workplace.

However not all workplaces offer positive and up building influences from work peers. Many of your colleagues in your working life, both blue collar and white collar, will lack in professionalism, honesty and respect. They may have views and opinions that are unreliable and even false. So if you do become under the control of your peers, whether it be to cover someone’s shift or gossip about another co-worker, it may be little more than the blind leading the blind. You would just be as much of a fool as they are.

I am starting to feel upset and negative, what do I do?

Have you started forming a negative attitude toward a co-worker or management? Have you noticed any changes in your attitude, behaviour or actions at work in order to fit in? It is true to say that no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do, just like the saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Ultimately it is your decision.

You may think it’s easy to not be intimidated by what your colleagues will think of you, but when you are faced with peer pressure it’s another story. For example, what would you do in the following circumstances?

One of your co-workers asks for your opinion on another co-worker who keeps coming to work half-an-hour late. You know that they are gossiping and don’t know the full story, but they’re waiting to hear what you think.

You receive junk mail circulating around the office that has been forwarded by a colleague. Everybody else is replying to the email, and you feel obligated to make a comment.

They aren’t easy situations to deal with are they? Most of the time, peer pressure won’t be direct from your colleagues, but may actually be indirect like from the last example. You don’t have to reply to the email circulating around the office, but because everybody is doing it, you may feel obligated to do the same. So how can you build up the strength to stand up to peer pressure from your colleagues?

Giving in to peer-pressure at work is the same as allowing others to do the thinking for you. The moment you step back to think about the actions that you’re going to make because of peer influences, is the moment that you will have the courage to stand up to them. Using your own thinking ability and knowledge and not relying on your co-workers foolish reasoning’s is the best way to overcome what it is you are feeling pressured to do.

It doesn’t matter where you work, be it in an office or on the factory floor, you may be disliked or scorned at because you are using your thinking abilities. Remember, you are the one with the greatest strength than your co-workers who give in to their foolish passions. Take for example the co-workers who ridicule management and their decisions. Are they heading into a successful direction in their career? Of course not! Their attitude won’t just stop them from progressing in the business, but every other workplace they work at. So is that where you want your career to end up at? I doubt it.

How do I cope with peer pressure?

Peer pressure will follow you everywhere, regardless of where you work. You can’t avoid this at work because you need to work alongside your colleagues to fulfil your job responsibilities. So what do you do? First thing is you need to keep your cool. If a colleague or supervisor says anything to you that makes you feel pressured or anxious at work, you need to keep your cool and be upfront with them.

We will look at two scenarios – indirect and direct peer pressure. An example of direct pressure would be if you accidentally arrived 10 minutes late to a meeting and a co-worker says to you “just wake up did you?” this then makes you feel under pressure because you arrived late and you’re not meeting your job commitments. You should be upfront with anyone that puts pressure on you at work, but in a mature and responsible manner. In this example, your reply should be “what are you trying to imply bob?” this will put the co-worker on the spot and have to justify why they are putting pressure on you.

Or in our previous example earlier, if a co-worker were to ask you to cover their shift, your first reply should be “No, I am not going to cover your shift” and if they ask you why you won’t, put them on the spot by replying “why should I have to cover your shift, am I not entitled to making my own decisions about what I do and don’t?” this then allows you to be assertive and let the other person know that you make decisions on your own, and not be guided by someone else.

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How do I deal with peer-pressure from co-workers by Matthew Coppola


Peer pressure occurs when a peer group exerts influence to persuade an individual to change their attitudes, values, or behaviours so that they meet group norms. Unfortunately peer-pressure doesn’t stop at school. It follows us into the workplace. It may be that a co-worker wants you to go out for drinks after work but you don’t really want to, it may be continuous junk mails circulating around the office that try and capture your attention or could be from a co-worker asking you to cover their shift for them. These are just a few examples of peer-pressure occurring in the workplace.

It is only natural to want to be popular and accepted by your peers at work. Influence from your peers should not be viewed necessarily a problem. Take the illustration of a butcher sharpening a knife. The butcher turns a blunt knife into a sharp knife ready to cut. If your work peers have mature, professional and respectful attitudes in the workplace, they can actually help sharpen your knowledge, skills and abilities in the workplace.

However not all workplaces offer positive and up building influences from work peers. Many of your colleagues in your working life, both blue collar and white collar, will lack in professionalism, honesty and respect. They may have views and opinions that are unreliable and even false. So if you do become under the control of your peers, whether it be to cover someone’s shift or gossip about another co-worker, it may be little more than the blind leading the blind. You would just be as much of a fool as they are.

Have you started forming a negative attitude toward a co-worker or management? Have you noticed any changes in your attitude, behaviour or actions at work in order to fit in? It is true to say that no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do, just like the saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Ultimately it is your decision.

You may think it’s easy to not be intimidated by what your colleagues will think of you, but when you are faced with peer pressure it’s another story. For example, what would you do in the following circumstances?

One of your co-workers asks for your opinion on another co-worker who keeps coming to work half-an-hour late. You know that they are gossiping and don’t know the full story, but they’re waiting to hear what you think.

You receive junk mail circulating around the office that has been forwarded by a colleague. Everybody else is replying to the email, and you feel obligated to make a comment.

They aren’t easy situations to deal with are they? Most of the time, peer pressure won’t be direct from your colleagues, but may actually be indirect like from the last example. You don’t have to reply to the email circulating around the office, but because everybody is doing it, you may feel obligated to do the same. So how can you build up the strength to stand up to peer pressure from your colleagues?

Giving in to peer-pressure at work is the same as allowing others to do the thinking for you. The moment you step back to think about the actions that you’re going to make because of peer influences, is the moment that you will have the courage to stand up to them. Using your own thinking ability and knowledge and not relying on your co-workers foolish reasoning’s is the best way to overcome what it is you are feeling pressured to do.

It doesn’t matter where you work, be it in an office or on the factory floor, you may be disliked or scorned at because you are using your thinking abilities. Remember, you are the one with the greatest strength than your co-workers who give in to their foolish passions. Take for example the co-workers who ridicule management and their decisions. Are they heading into a successful direction in their career? Of course not! Their attitude won’t just stop them from progressing in the business, but every other workplace they work at. So is that where you want your career to end up at? I doubt it.

Peer pressure will follow you everywhere, regardless of where you work. You can’t avoid this at work because you need to work alongside your colleagues to fulfil your job responsibilities. So what do you do? First thing is you need to keep your cool. If a colleague or supervisor says anything to you that makes you feel pressured or anxious at work, you need to keep your cool and be upfront with them.

We will look at two scenarios – indirect and direct peer pressure. An example of direct pressure would be if you accidentally arrived 10 minutes late to a meeting and a co-worker says to you “just wake up did you?” this then makes you feel under pressure because you arrived late and you’re not meeting your job commitments. You should be upfront with anyone that puts pressure on you at work, but in a mature and responsible manner. In this example, your reply should be “what are you trying to imply bob?” this will put the co-worker on the spot and have to justify why they are putting pressure on you.

Or in our previous example earlier, if a co-worker were to ask you to cover their shift, your first reply should be “No, I am not going to cover your shift” and if they ask you why you won’t, put them on the spot by replying “why should I have to cover your shift, am I not entitled to making my own decisions about what I do and don’t?” this then allows you to be assertive and let the other person know that you make decisions on your own, and not be guided by someone else.

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Author: Matthew Coppola, Client Centric Executive Employment Solutions

Careers Advisor, Employment Specialist & Resume Writing Expert.

With over 7 years’ experience in Recruitment, Employment Services and Corporate Training, Matthew has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience in resume writing, interview skills, job searching strategies, selection criteria writing and career planning. 

His approach to resume writing is to actually sell the individual, shine a light on their best qualities and powerfully market them to prospective employers. 

Matthew holds a Graduate Certificate in Career Education and Development and a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics.

How do I get along with my colleagues better?


The following article is written by Matthew Coppola,  Australian Career Coach and Employment Consultant. If you are interested in inviting him to speak at any events/conferences, please feel free to contact us.

Do you sometimes feel that no matter how hard you try to be friends, you manage to turn off some of your co-workers? What then do you need to do to be able to get along with your colleagues better? The truth of the matter is, not everyone is going to like you. This is a sad reality of life that we must all accept. If you try too hard to have your colleagues like you, it may actually work the opposite, actually turning them off. Your colleagues will be able to sniff out the insecurity from you. So how do you then deal with this dilemma?

The answer is to treat your co-workers as you would treat yourself. Although you have your own flaws, recognize your own worth as an individual and how much you have to offer to your workplace. By valuing yourself better, it will enable you to be able to value your co-workers better. For instance this would help in dealing with the occasional co-worker who puts forward a cold shoulder whenever you try to be friends with them on a professional level. In saying that, steer away from automatically assuming that “the other person has the problem” it may be that your personality and approach in communicating to others needs refinement.

There are two ways that can help you in making a goal of getting along better with your colleagues. These are:

  1. Try and improve your conversation skills
  2. Show personal, yet professional interest in your colleagues

Improving your conversation skills

People like those who can converse well in meetings, networking functions, and amongst co-workers. Improving your conversation skills starts with having something worthwhile to say, that is, to think before you speak. It is good to be able to talk about a wide variety of subjects. For example, you might want to keep up to date with news and current affairs or innovations and changes in your industry. Reading industry focused magazines and newsletters are a good way of having something to talk about. Whatever you speak about, try and avoid three things – making your conversations more about yourself and not the other person, negative talk and gossiping about other staff members.

Another important skill is to be able to keep the conversation flowing. If a co-worker or manager asks you a question or says something to you in conversation, don’t kill the discussion with a yes or a no answer, instead reply in full. For example, if a colleague asks you how your weekend was, reply in saying how it was and what you did. This then opens the door for further discussion and allows the opportunity for you to ask your co-worker a similar question. Do you ever find that people bring up subjects that you are either not interested in or have little idea about it? Even so, the other person will think favourably upon you if you ask them questions and show interest in what they have to say.

Show personal, yet professional interest in your colleagues

Personal interest on a professional level, by definition, is about being attentive to the concerns and being curious about your fellow colleagues. You can show this through making yourself available to help and using encouraging words such as ‘you should be proud of yourself’ ‘That’s impressive’ or ‘Wish I was as good as you’ and so forth. If you make it a goal of genuinely expressing praise to your co-workers, you can expect them to do also to you.

The basic principle to making others like you is to tell them what they want to hear and Show them what they want to see.

You tell your colleagues what they want to hear by praising them and their work, saying things like “I wish I was as smart as you” and “You’re going to go far in this company” this is what they want to hear! They also want to see you praising them to the boss, making mistakes and asking them for help and not trying to seek attention from others in the office. They want to see genuineness, accountability and respect from you.

Make it also a goal of giving your time and energy to your fellow colleagues. This will impress them greatly. If you are working, and your colleague comes up to you and explains how they solved a work-related issue, sacrifice five minutes of your time to listen to what they say, by dropping everything you have in your hands and turn your body towards them. Of course, if you are really busy at work and cannot spare 5 minutes, explain to them that you are flat out but would be interested in hearing about it possibly over lunch or at another suitable time.

You can get along with your colleagues better!

Often times the reason why we have a hard getting along with certain people is simply because there is a clash of personalities. Generally, personality clashes centre around two colleagues with strong personalities. If you find yourself having a hard time getting along with someone at work that has a strong personality, remember that blaming the other person will only result in a vicious circle, with each individual not giving in. Best thing to do in that situation is to realise that it takes the stronger person to back down and show humility.

Clashes between individuals with strong personalities at work usually begin like a tiny leak on a submarine submerged underwater. Sooner or later the crack becomes bigger and bigger, finally bursting a hole in the vessel and flooding it. So likewise if you find yourself about to explode with angry words, it would be best for you to physically walk away. The potential for personality clashes to occur are always going to be there, so therefore it is your responsibility to avoid it all cost.

Every colleague is different, so it can be very challenging at times to build a relationship with them all. But trying your hardest to get along with all of your colleagues despite differing personalities, some more extreme than others, will make an impression on your colleagues and they will go out of their way to get along with you too. It just takes the bigger person. So it might as well be you!

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Established in 2010, Client Centric Executive Employment Solutions (formerly All Jobs Resume Writing Services Australia) has become one of the leading boutique Employment Services firm in Australia. We offer a range of specialist career management and resume writing services to satisfy our clients both at an individual and corporate level. Our writing services include resume and cover letter assistance, responding to key selection criteria, search word optimised LinkedIn Profiles for greater online presence and a job application service where we apply for jobs on your behalf. Our corporate program includes career management planning assistance such as writing key staff biographies for website and marketing presentations, outplacement and career transitioning services for retrenched staff and career counselling. Our team are highly skilled and knowledgeable in broad range of industries. We service clients all over Australia including Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart.