One of the most valuable assets you can have in your journey is a supportive and constructive peer group. Peers are those who share a similar path as yours—they could have the same job, share common goals, or just be in a similar age group to you. Peers may not be close friends, but can sometimes be the people you interact with the most, so finding the right peer group is important. Positive relationships with peers can help you to learn, grow, and achieve your goals by exposing you to new perspectives, motivating you to stay on track, and being a source of stability and comfort.
So how do you find the right peers? And how do you maintain healthy relationships with them? Here are some tips to help you lean into your peers and benefit from their unique perspectives and experiences.
Seek Out the Right Peers
It’s critical to your well-being to be selective about who you let into your peer group. For example, everyone has been around the constant downer, who always seems to maintain a disgruntled, cynical outlook on the world and their responsibilities in it. Peers like this can leave you feeling unmotivated and under-inspired. While having a diverse and inclusive peer group is important, not all peers will have a positive influence on you. Some may not share your same motivations, values, or interests, distracting you from your goals and philosophies.
Look for signs of trustworthiness, integrity, and respectfulness. It’s okay to look for those who share similar interests and values, but make sure you also include those who challenge you to think creatively. Seek out peers whose skills might complement yours, as well as those from diverse backgrounds. Choose to get to know peers that you can count on.
Build A Strong Relationship
Communicating with honesty and kindness can be especially helpful in developing a bond through trust. Be respectful of your peers’ views and perspectives, and gently encourage them to think differently if they’re not on the right track. This often takes practice! Be open and transparent about your expectations, needs, and challenges. They’ll appreciate your openness because, in turn, it will help them to feel more comfortable and open to you, strengthening your bond. And, always remember to show them your appreciation.
Learning is key to great peer relationships. By working with your peers, you get to benefit from an exchange of skills and knowledge that helps you both to achieve better outcomes. Working together can help you learn to think about things or complete tasks in ways that you never knew were possible, enhancing and expanding your toolbelt and overall knowledge. In return, you get to contribute to their growth and development and directly benefit their life.
Remove Yourself from Unhealthy Peer Relationships
Sometimes, even when you make a strong effort to seek out a great peer group, you’ll find yourself in an unhealthy peer dynamic driven by competition, conflict, and/or negativity. If this happens, don’t hesitate to seek help from someone who can mediate or resolve the situation. Remember—while certain situations can be waited out, never let an unhealthy peer dynamic affect your well-being long-term.
Having peers that challenge you and you can trust can make life more rewarding and meaningful. By working on fostering a healthy relationship, you open yourself to learning and the ability to have a strong support system that has your back.