Conflict Resolution, Part 2:
The Accommodating Fighting Style
Yep, we are breaking the first rule of fight club again!
We’re talking about it.
Last week we began our series on fighting by addressing the first resolution style: Avoidance.
If you’re just now joining us, you’ve probably got a few questions, so let me summarize as best I can.
What Is a Fighting Style?
Your fighting style is the way you choose to address conflicts in your life. Most often the behavior you use is a learned behavior from the biggest influencers in your life.
How are These Categorized?
Typically there are five styles that everybody recognizes thanks to the lifelong work that went into the Thomas-Kilmann model (TKI) of conflict resolution. Thier model measures your concern for yourself (assertiveness) against your concern for other people (cooperativeness).
Now, just because you tend to use one over the others, doesn’t mean you’re incapable of using any or all of them. The TKI is very adamant that these are learned behaviors and being the smart cookies that you are, you will have them all down pat by the end of this series. I’m sure of it.
Let’s dig into this week’s style: Accommodation
Where It Lands on the Scale
Similar to the avoidance style of last week’s article, people using the accommodating style show very little regard for their own needs. They rank at the very bottom of the scale for assertiveness.
But (and you knew there was a but coming somewhere) accommodators have extremely high concerns for the needs of other people. They accommodate them, if you will.
Characteristics of Avoiders
In most situations accommodators can feel like a doormat. That sounds harsh, but when you throw your own needs and desires out of the window time and again in favor of someone else’s, they will eventually pick up on that and use it for their advantage.
We’ll more about that style next week.
Accommodation is also viewed as the most motherly of the five styles, due to its high concern for filling other people’s needs. People who gravitate towards this style are compassionate, sympathetic, and tender. They are typically the peacekeepers of the family.
In terms of “give and take,” accommodators are constantly giving, and very rarely take. They may even have trouble accepting gifts or compliments because they are so used to dishing it out.
Effects of Avoidance tendencies
So what does it mean to be a compassionate, cuddly accommodator?
There are good effects, like building strong relationships. Typically accommodators become the person people go to for advice and to get what they need.
Because of their nurturing personalities, they are wonderful comforters and sounding boards for creativity. They are supportive of everyone in their life, except themselves obviously.
Too much accommodation has its negatives. Most notably, loss of respect. Since they rarely stand their ground, opposing parties view them as easy targets and steamroll them. As a result, the accommodator feels unheard and their self-esteem suffers.
To Use or Not to Use:
Just like last week, we’ll take a look at a few scenarios:
You and your spouse have had a busy few weeks. You’ve decided that you want to spend the weekend with each other – do a few distractions.
Surprise! Your in-laws show up, uninvited and unannounced, to stay at your house for the weekend. You know they are important to your spouse, and that saying something oppositional will likely not end well. Despite wanting to get the heck out of dodge, honey in tow, you don’t make a fuss about it and instead suggest you move your alone time plans to the next weekend.
In this example, you’ve weighed your options and decided that peace with your spouse (and with your in-laws) is more important than getting your way.
You accommodate the needs of other people in the hopes that the issue doesn’t snowball into a large problem in the family.
Let’s keep going with this set up to see when not to accommodate, shall we?
All weekend you have been run ragged entertaining your unexpected guests. It’s Sunday afternoon, and you’ve dropped a few hints about their leaving so that you and your spouse can get ready for another taxing week.
You can see that your girl is tired. And you’re exhausted as well. You have paid for every meal and catered to their needs since Friday evening.
Out of nowhere they ask to stay around through the end of the week. You want them to leave. You weren’t prepared to have them over in the first place.
Instead of putting your foot down, you bite your tongue. They stay around while you continue to care for their needs.
By letting them override you, you have given them all the power. They now know that you will never stand up for yourself and that they can always get their way. Yes, you’ve kept the peace, but at your own expense.
Strategies to Improve Your Fighting Technique
I can’t stress enough how important it is for our accommodating friends to determine their own needs. Here are a few things to consider:
- What are the 5 most important relationships to you? If a conflict arises with someone not on the list, remember that you don’t have to accommodate them.
- What needs do you need met? Even within your romantic relationships it’s important to know which needs you absolutely have to have fulfilled. Companionship? Support? Affirmation? Financial security? Figure it out! Then, feel free to say no!
- What issues are okay to let go? Choose your battles. Maybe it’s choosing a movie or dinner spot, but minor things are totally fine to “keep the peace” over.
I’ll admit, those steps sound easier than they are, especially if you don’t like conflict. You’ll most likely need extra help becoming more assertive.
No worries, though!
There are tons of free resource like this free course, that will walk you through the basics of assertive communication.
This website is dedicated to coaching you to be more assertive in every aspect of life!
One-on-one help is out there, too. If so, consider hiring a life coach in your area for a few weeks.
If your relationship has gone past the point of no return and you are divorcing, be sure to find an advocate that know your needs and will fight for them!
Wrapping it all up, there is nothing wrong with being accommodating when it’s appropriate. As long as you don’t allow yourself to be a “doormat” it is a perfectly viable solution to keep the peace in your household.
If you aren’t an accommodator, consider taking a few notes from them. Remember that not everything has to be your way, especially the minor things!
You will be surprised at what giving a little will get you!
Next week we will visit the opposite side of the scale, Competing conflict styles.
- Conflict Resolution, Part 1: The Full Rundown on Avoidance and Fighting Like a Man Every relationship will experience quarrels. Each has their own way of dealing with confrontation whether or not you realize it. Mediators and therapists have a name for it: Conflict Resolution style. In layman terms, fighting style.…
- Conflict Resolution, Part 3 Competing and Dominant Fighting Styles We’ve been talking about fighting. So far we’ve covered avoiding conflict, and accommodating another person’s needs over your own. Our primary focus has been on improving how you fight for your relationship. For those following along from week one, you know…
- Conflict Resolution, Part 5: How to Solve Conflict Through Collaboration Collaboration is the best way to arrive at a resolution. By collaborating on something you're actually tuning into the other person's side. You're listening and lending your thoughts as well. In this last installment of our series on conflict resolution,…