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What Is the Accommodating Conflict Management Style and When Should You Use It?

The world of construction involves multiple crews, labor-intense work, and tight deadlines, all of which make conflict inevitable. The accommodating conflict management style is just one of five ways to handle conflict and keep your project on track.

The four other conflict-management styles are: 

  • Collaborating style
  • Competing style
  • Compromising style
  • Avoiding style

What is the accommodating conflict style?

The word accommodating derives from the Latin accommodātus, which means “to fit on, apply, make agree, make suitable, adapt.” Once we define accommodating, it makes sense that the accommodating style of conflict resolution is one of unselfishness and low assertiveness. In practice, it means being  willing to set aside your personal interests to find a middle ground with your team. You might use this strategy if the conflict is small and you need to quickly move past an issue. 

Example of the accommodating style in practice

Imagine a large plumbing crew shows up for a project that wasn’t supposed to start until the electricians left. Now both crews are fighting, and you need to step in. You’ve employed these plumbers before and plan to hire them again. So even though they bungled the schedule, you choose to ignore it. You let them proceed and give the electrical crew the rest of the day off. This isn’t the most assertive way to handle the conflict—and you may want to gently nudge the plumbers to check their calendar—but by employing the accommodating style, you’re using a management skill that helps keep the peace.

When should you use the accommodating style? 

The accommodating conflict style is ideal in the following situations: 

  • When keeping the relationship matters more than getting your way. 
  • When you want to smooth over or avoid an argument. 
  • When you’re on a tight deadline. 

As conflict styles go, the accommodating approach should be used sparingly, as it can erode your confidence over time. Having the courage to speak up for yourself and confront conflict head-on, even if it means making unpopular decisions, will earn you more respect than taking the easy way out. 

How to be more assertive 

If you tend to back down in a conflict, it’s also easy to end up feeling like a martyr. That’s why being assertive is so critical—it can help you advocate for your own interests as well as those of your team. 

To improve your assertiveness, try turning to someone you trust. You can discuss a particular issue that’s weighing on you, but also try role playing to get a sense of where you fall short. When it’s your turn to speak up, do you clearly state what you want? Or are you afraid to let everyone down? Knowing what’s holding you back will help you get past it, and you’ll find it gets easier with practice. 

Remember, says Dr. Christine Fiori, program director of the Construction Management Program at Drexel University, being willing to see both sides is helpful when trying to find a solution. But if you feel like you’re always the one to give in, you need to strike a balance. That way, everyone wins. 

MT Copeland offers video-based online classes that give you a foundation in construction fundamentals with real-world applications, like managing conflict on the jobsite

Classes include professionally produced videos taught by practicing craftspeople, and supplementary downloads like quizzes, blueprints, and other materials to help you master the skills. 

Avatar Photo of Dr. Christine Fiori

Featured Instructor

Dr. Christine Fiori

Dr. Christine Fiori is the Program Director of the Construction Management Program at Drexel University where she teaches courses in Project Controls, Equipment Applications and Economics, Leadership, Safety and Strategic Management. Prior to joining the faculty at Drexel University, she was the Preston and Catharine White Fellow and Associate Director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. She received her PhD in Civil Engineering from Drexel University in 1997. She served as a Civil Engineering officer in the United States Air Force and taught at both the US Air Force Academy and Arizona State University. Her passion for building was stoked early in her life as both her father and grandfather were carpenters.

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