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The accommodating form of conflict management occurs when we allow multiple infractions from a single person. We disrespect ourselves when we keep our mouths shut, and when we subsequently allow more time for the opposing ones to flap.

I think fear is the primary factor that prevents us from asserting our rights – the right to be respected, the right to express our opinion, the right to present ourselves as another’s equal, and the right to disagree with their platform. Bullies (who unlike the rest of us, lack decency) don’t find it necessary to reciprocate niceness. They will summarily maul you if they feel their sense of control is circumvented.

Turn the other cheek is a great exhortation, but at work may send the wrong message to people who may become brutish. Confrontation in a confident fashion (and failure to sink to your opponent’s level) is the only way to turn the tide of abuse.

As a boss, if your primary objective is punishing employees and putting them in their place perhaps you should consider changing professions. We shortchange ourselves when we hand over the controls to those who opt not to control themselves. Accommodation is a route to groupthink, a perverse form of self-effacement, and a firm in which the rule of the jungle is law.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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