Being accommodating at work is a quality many companies would love to have in their employees. As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary accommodating is, “A willingness to please. Helpful and obliging.” But what does it mean to use an accommodating conflict style when a dispute occurs at work?
The accommodating conflict style is one of the five conflict management styles developed by two psychologists, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann. You can take the conflict styles quiz at the bottom of this article if you’d like to see which one of the five conflict styles you are most inclined to use.
The accommodating conflict style ranks the lowest in assertiveness in the Thomas-Kilmann model but is highly “cooperative.” To clarify, those with a conflict style accommodating are cooperative in the sense that they yield to another person’s interests or concerns to maintain the relationship, please them, keep the peace, or earn goodwill.
You would be most likely to take on this conflict style when you have made a mistake, are speaking to someone in a position of authority, have admitted you’re wrong, or do not have a strong opinion on the topic, as it can help to effectively diffuse a conflict. However, if it is overused, you may find yourself feeling like or being perceived as a pushover or someone disinterested at work.
When we looked at the assessment responses to see how professionals resolve conflict at work, we uncovered that 6.8% said their dominant conflict management style is accommodating.
Advantages of the Accommodating Conflict Style
- Allows conflicts to be resolved quickly or can help break a stalemate
- Restores peace and harmony
- Helps maintain positive working relationships and preserve trust
- Acting selflessly can earn you goodwill and appreciation from others
Disadvantages of the Accommodating Conflict Style
- Creates power imbalances that lead to resentment or anger
- Undermines your confidence and contributions, which can ultimately negatively impact your performance and ability to get ahead at work
- Limits your ability to solve complex problems or conflicts
3 Lessons Everyone Can Learn from the Accommodating Conflict Style
Know When It’s Time to Be Accommodating
Just as there is a time to fight and a time to be quiet in a conflict at work, there is a time when it is best to accommodate the other person. The key is to know when that time comes. Be mindful of how a conflict is progressing, and if you get to the point where you feel continuing will damage the relationship long-term, hurt productivity, or impede your performance or goals, then it may be time to consider accommodating the other person.
Check Your Ego
If you’ve been arguing from a particular point of view but find your mind has been changed, it can be hard to “give up the fight,” admit you’ve changed your mind, and yield to the other person as someone who embodies the accommodating conflict style would do. According to neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez, this has something to do with “the prevailing ego-centric side of us [which] likes to win.” However, the ability to put your ego aside to maintain a relationship or restore harmony is key to successful conflict resolution in the workplace and beyond.
Resist the Urge to Complain About Being Accommodating
It is unlikely that every time you adopt the accommodating conflict style that you’ll be entirely happy about doing so. Countless situations in the workplace will require you to take on this approach simply for the sake of time or the bigger picture. Once you do so, be mindful that complaining about or seemingly “holding it over the heads” of those you were in a conflict with can counteract the harmony you sought to create, taint your relationships, and undermine your interpersonal effectiveness.
Find Out Your Conflict Style
When you’re engaged in a dispute at work, what do you typically do? Do you ignore the problem? Do you confront the person or situation right away? Do you look to find a middle ground?
By taking our conflict styles quiz, you’ll uncover which style you naturally deploy when a disagreement arises at work.
Conflict is normal, natural, and bound to happen at work. While it can be stressful and challenging to navigate, being equipped with the communication skills to resolve conflict can make all the difference for individuals and leaders alike. Programs such as Difficult Conversations Work or Speaking as a Leader, as well as working with a professional coach, are a few of the ways you can develop your abilities to tackle these situations and effectively resolve conflict at work.