How often do you get into an argument over where to eat with your friends or family? This rarely happens to me. I like so many different kinds of food that I am usually happy acquiescing to whatever my friend’s taste might be (with the notable exceptions of pepperoni pizza or sushi, but even then I can usually find something I like).
The accommodating style of approaching conflict is when, with little or no discussion, you agree to the other person’s wishes. Like all five styles, there are times to avoid this style and times to use it.
People who overuse this style are vulnerable to exploitation. Once a reputation for accommodating is established, people may begin expecting to get their way when interacting with you. While this may not be a problem with some people, it seems that “users” have a type of guidance system that draws them to “givers.”
It is also the trap of the “people pleaser.” While being an agreeable person is important, it is equally important to stand up for your opinions and perspective on an issue. The trick is to know when to speak up and hold your ground and when to give way to the needs and wishes of others.
While there are real problems associated with the overuse of this style, it is also a great way to build social credit, especially when the issue is not something you have strong feelings about. It shows interest in the needs and wants of the other person, which is a key element of forming a connection with another.
I will sometimes use this style in the classroom. I often use role play scenarios to give my students the opportunity to put different communication skills into practice. Sometimes they take an approach that I recognize as not the most effective for reaching their goals. However, I rarely interfere so that they can learn from the experience, especially in a low-stakes environment. I accommodate their choices so that they can grow.
John Maxwell points out that connecting is all about others. This means that when it is important to build a relationship, the accommodating style may be the recommended style. Judge the importance and weight of a joint decision, and use this style judiciously.
Links and Resources:
An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton
Check out the rest of this series!
The Compromising Style