Resolving conflicts is rarely easy but having a range of tools to use that fit the various situations is how we get better at dealing with each situation. We know that avoiding or withdrawing from conflict works in some instances, especially for conflicts that we simply can’t win or where the impact is minor. As we continue to explore the various ways to resolve conflicts, clashes or disagreements, here is another great strategy to utilize as needed:
Strategy #2 – Smooth/Accommodate
Smoothing or accommodating is all about trying to focus on areas of agreement, rather than differences and potential heated discussions. Concessions sometimes must be made in order to maintain harmony; otherwise, we would all be cantankerous, stubborn individuals with few friends or allies. Accommodating helps preserve relationships by maintaining concern for the other party or parties. When we are sensitive to the feelings of others and care about relationships, we demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence. This also allows us to recognize that we can’t win every battle, nor do we want to.
We’ve all used this technique of smoothing or accommodating from time to time; it’s also perfect for those occasional jams we get ourselves in. Have you ever forgotten something important, made someone upset as a result, but then busted your behind to smooth it all over? That’s an example of accommodating, and it can be very useful. In the workplace, employees often have to accommodate the wishes of their superiors, or they may suffer potential consequences. There may be grumbling about it, but in a hierarchical environment it’s often a requirement for organizational compliance and maintaining harmony. Accommodating also can be a means of paving the way to getting things done more efficiently. It takes the negative energy out of the equation.
Being a smooth operator
Accommodating isn’t really a long-term solution for resolving conflicts. It can actually be a quick reprieve for when we need to revisit something again later or simply buy time in order to get something done and then look later on at what could be improved. Sometimes, keeping the conflict going does considerable harm to relationships, our work, or our goals, so becoming the ‘smooth operator’ is the best option. For instance, if head office implements a new policy that no one’s happy about, the best option is often to carry it out as directed, but then come up with solutions to present to them at a later date for ways to improve upon it, or to demonstrate why it isn’t effective.
One thing to keep in mind whenever we utilize the smoothing strategy is that the emphasis should be placed on the overarching goals and the importance of maintaining good relationships. Goodwill is paramount to winning the conflict.
It’s also important to note that smoothing or accommodating works well as long as both parties have the same give-and-take mindset, otherwise one party may take advantage of the latitude the other party is giving. Just like when we withdraw from a conflict, we don’t want it to seem like we are being taken advantage of, but that after some consideration we recognize that obliging the other party was in our best interest as well.
I’ve competed in a lot of adventure races in my life, often with my brother and father, and at times we have had conflicts in our strategy or other areas. We’re able to resolve these quickly by focusing on the end goal, realizing the importance of sticking together, and making concessions. Maintaining a conflict takes a lot of time and energy, so it’s important to choose our battles wisely. When we utilize our efforts for more meaningful pursuits, we see more positive results in the long run.
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan