Now this is a tricky one. Is yielding to others a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it depends. 

Some of us have a hard time admitting we’re wrong and feel we must have the last word in any disagreement.

Some of us avoid conflict like the plague and give in to others even when we disagree or know that we’re right.

True assertiveness is when we know which of the above to choose in a tricky situation. How do we know?

If our relationship with the person we’re disagreeing with is very important to us – could be because of friendship or because it’s a valued customer or the boss – then it’s often best to yield if the issue is not that important. Time will often tell if we’re right or not and arguing is often going nowhere except to damage the relationship. Choose your battles, as the old saying goes.

If the issue is really important, then we need to be assertive enough to stand up to that person while letting them know that we value the relationship. It’s been shown that too much deference to people in authority has contributed to disastrous decisions and actions. I heard a fascinating programme about this on Radio 4 a while ago – here’s the link if you get the chance to listen to it – it shows how an overly hierarchical culture can lead to people yielding in an entirely wrong way. It vividly describes how cabin crew were so conditioned not to question the pilot that they allowed a plane to crash rather than speak up.

So there’s a time and place for yielding – it’s a great interpersonal skill that can stop us from damaging important relationships, but we need to know when it’s not the right thing to do.