ADR Times

Accommodating to Achieve a Positive Result

When people approach conflict or conflict resolution, they typically choose one of five styles of negotiation to handle the conflict—competing, compromising, collaborating, avoiding, and accommodating. These styles describe the way a person can think about, negotiate, and eventually resolve a problem. Most people have a sort of default style that they use for their private, personal conflicts as well as a style that is hard for them to work with while in conflict. However, when someone is dealing with conflict in a more formal setting such as mediation or negotiation, each one of the five types can have a role depending on the situation. Because we do not default to all of the types, it is important to understand how the different types of work and the best situations to use each one. This article will focus on the accommodating style to help identify the appropriate situations and effective use of an accommodating style in a negotiation or mediation in the future.

Characteristics of Accommodating Style

A common characteristic of accommodating style are the phrases, “I’m fine with whatever you’d like,” or “You win. I lose.” People who practice the accommodating style are often called peacemakers, willing to give up what they are asking for to either keep the peace or ensure the relationship between the parties will remain intact after the conflict. Additionally, a person acting in an accommodating style will exhibit the following characteristics:

Benefits of the Accommodating Style:

While some of the characteristics listed above may seem negative, the accommodating style has many benefits, both for people who default to accommodation and those using it strategically. For many negotiators, the returns on an accommodating style outweigh the losses felt in giving into the other side. Benefits of using this style include:

Drawbacks of Accommodating:

While there are benefits to using an accommodating style, there are also several drawbacks that may cause issues in a negotiation. Understanding the issues that may arise will help keep the negotiation on track and help a skilled negotiator move into a different style when the other party starts to take advantage of the accommodator. Several of these drawbacks include:

These drawbacks may have consequences in a negotiation, but many of these situations can be avoided with proper research and preparation. Understanding when accommodating will be helpful or harmful is a vital aspect of that preparation.

Proper Times to Use Accommodating Style:

There are several situations when an accommodating personality can be a strategic step in a negotiation. Some of these situations include:

Accommodating as a Default:

The rest of this article has focused on when to strategically use an accommodating style; however, it is also important to understand how to proceed when one tends to accommodate in everyday life. If someone’s default style of conflict resolution leans more heavily toward accommodating, it is important to know that accommodators are often well-liked and respected by their colleges and opposite parties. They are perceived as friendly and willing to work with other people and find common ground. Accommodators are skilled negotiators and can achieve a good result for themselves or their clients, but they will need to be aware of when the accommodating side takes over. Some points or warning signs to be aware of are:


Whether accommodating is one’s natural style or if they are using it strategically, it is important to understand and research their most important goals. If the goal is preserving the relationship between them and the other party or achieving a winning outcome, it is important to understand when accommodating can be strategically used to gain ground or save face when needed. Watching for signs that accommodating is not working in their best interests and keeping themselves in check will help them to achieve the best possible outcome while remaining friendly with the opposing party. The balance may be difficult, but the benefits of accommodation will often be well worth the work.

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