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Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode: What's Good About Accommodating?


When people read the results of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), they can reach the conclusion that accommodating is the best style. In fact, each of the 5 styles works well in some situations and poorly in others. The skill is to know when to use each style.

Some of the benefits of accommodating include restoring harmony, building relationships, settling things quickly, and helping others out. Some disadvantages include possible loss of respect and motivation, and sacrificing important points.

Some examples of how this style can be used include doing someone a favor, obeying an authority, deferring to someone else, appeasing someone who is dangerous, or letting yourself be persuaded.

When an issue is very important to someone else and not that important to you, it might be a good idea to give in to reap greater rewards later. You will build a good working relationship with the other person and will also help that person in his or her work. Likewise, it helps increase the other person's self-confidence if you let him or her do well without having to take credit yourself. The more secure you are in your position, the easier this is to do. You could tell one of your direct reports that you couldn't have done a better job yourself. You can also encourage your team members to try new ideas out, even if it's not the way you'd do it. Remember: even though it might look different than your way, it's not necessarily the wrong way.

If you have created some ill will in your past dealings with others, an accommodating style can help clear the air. This is one of the best uses of this style: damage control. It might help to apologize for angry words or deeds in the past. If the relationship with the other person is important to you, apologizing can help rebuild trust and improve goodwill.

Accommodation helps when you are in a losing position or are about to be overruled. It's a matter of realizing that you might not win every argument or your position might not be accepted every time. If you concede gracefully, you'll continue to build goodwill and will help speed along the decision making process. This is particularly smart if your boss has overruled you. You gain little by continuing to argue your point. Of course, there are exceptions: if your boss is doing something illegal or clearly against your organization's policies, you might tell his or her boss about it. Other than that, you're better served by respecting the organizational hierarchy.

One key aspect of this style is to concede gracefully. This means maintaining your composure, smiling, and avoiding snide remarks and threats. You gain little by complaining about the decision. Briefly explain your reasons for going along with the group, then move on.

Of course, there are disadvantages to every style, which we'll cover in a future issue.


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