Understanding Conflict Styles – The Accommodating Mode

We’ve all been in situations where our goals and needs have come into conflict with someone else, and we’ve all felt the often-intense personal animosity that can result. However, the way we handle conflict with a colleague at work may be very different than with a friend or spouse.  Our response will be dictated by how important the issue is, and how much energy we put into it.

… what may appear as the truth to one person will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker. Where there is honest effort, it will be realized that what appeared to be different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the same tree. – Gandhi

Out of habit, most of us rely on one or two approaches to handling conflict because of the way we were raised, our job responsibilities, past experiences, or even cultural norms.  And, because we are more comfortable with some modes more than others, it is easy to overuse or underuse them and as a result create unintended consequences.

In order to expand our conflicting handling options, we need to improve our awareness, refine our existing conflict handling skills and even develop new ones.

This is the fourth of five posts that aims to help increase your understanding of the following conflicting handling styles.

Competing Collaborating CompromisingAvoiding Accommodating


The Accommodating mode is characterized as low assertiveness and high cooperativeness.  That is to say that when a person chooses this approach to managing conflict, they are willing to forego their own concerns to satisfy the concerns of others. People who  relate to the True Colors Blue/Gold combination might also relate to this mode.


While some may think this approach isn’t practical, there are certain situations in which its use is completely appropriate.  For example when:

  • When preserving harmony and avoiding disruption are especially important.
  •  To enable others to develop and learn from their choices and mistakes.
  • When the issue is much more important to the other person.
  • When you realize you are wrong.
  • When continued competition would only damage the cause.

To be effective in your use of Accommodating in a conflict situation, you’ll have to hone your skills and become very comfortable

  • not winning every time and not always having your own way
  • focussing on the needs and concerns of others
  • being obedientsometimes – i.e., taking direction without pushing back
  • taking a backseat without fear of losing influence or power

Overusing the Accommodating Mode

For some of us the Accommodating mode is our ‘go to’ response when faced with difficult situations.  But, if  overused, it may cause you to:

  •  lose sight of of the fact that you have needs, wants and opinions of your own.
  • give in to others too easily leaving others to think that you can’t stand up for yourself.  You could affect your credibility and ability to influence others
  • withhold your perspective a great ideas
  • inadvertently create an environment in which others think they can do as they please – ultimately impacting overall performance

Underusing the Accommodating Mode

People who are used to getting their own way, or being  ‘right’ all the time may underuse the Accommodating mode. When underused it may cause:

  • your relationships to be affected, because you are unwilling to recognize the importance of others concerns and needs.
  • problems with low morale as others will feel unappreciated because you so seldom cater to their needs and concerns.
  • others to think of you as purely being about ‘the Rules’ because you have difficulty recognizing when exceptions are justified
  • you to get into conflicts when you don’t need to because you have a hard time admitting when you are wrong.

Conflict Resolution

From a True Colors perspective, high functioning teams are made up of  Gold, Blue Green and Orange personality types.    To work successfully with these types, it is critical that team leaders and team members understand how to effectively manage conflict.  There are those who subscribe to the notion that the only way to deal with conflict is to prevent it, and others who believe that conflict is unavoidable and in fact can help people grow.  Regardless of philosophy successful teams will, at some point, be confronted with conflict within the group.

Conflicts are part of individual relationships and organizational development, and no relationship or organization can hope to mature to productivity and be successful without being able to resolve conflicts effectively” (Cottringer, 1997).

Learn more about our True Colors and Conflict Management Workshops here

Do you know what your True Colors are?  Find out now by taking our assessment here 


Gillian Andries, is a Life & Career Coach and a certified True Colors facilitator

Image credit: www.theatlantic.com

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