Accommodating: This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person’s own needs. The accommodator often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues matter more to the other party, when peace is more valuable than winning, or when you want to be in a position to collect on this “favor” you gave. However people may not return favors, and overall this approach is unlikely to give the best outcomes.
Iris is talking about the case where an individual is somehow stuck in this as her life-style, i.e. to always be accommodating.
She describes the signs of being in this style: the state of basic discontent which is always in need of something more or different to fill this need and therefore makes the individual prone to accommodate others so that they will provide this something which fills this need. But the satisfaction is only temporary because the need never goes away, and the same exchange is repeated. The key is that the accommodating individual gets something out of the exchange that she needs, and because she continually needs this she is continually accommodating. Typically what she needs is the approval of the other person. Iris uses the example of your friend asking you to bring her a glass of water. If you are in the accommodating style you comply, even if it was inconvenient for you just then, but you expect something in return. Maybe, in this case is just her appreciation. If you don’t get it you feel cheated out of something. If she uses it to water the flower pot, or says it tasted bad you feel insulted or rejected. On the other hand if you are in autonomy mode and she asks for the water, you look inside yourself and ask: “am I doing something else now or can just as easily go and fetch the water, then OK I do it” and I don’t look for anything in return because I don’t need anything, I am already satisfied within myself. Then I don’t care what she does with the water, I have nothing vested in it. On the other hand if I am getting a little tired of fetching water for her, because I don’t get out of it what I need, then I shift over into the mode of defiance; go and get your own water you demanding person. But this is not autonomy either, because my level of satisfaction is still determined by her.
Now, autonomy doesn’t have to mean I am totally self-sufficient. I may still find it more interesting and enjoyable to be in a togetherness with you but in a style of cooperation. Then we can both discuss something we are both interested in, like the theory of Dark Energy that those guys got the Nobel prize for. In our discussion, we share our ideas and understandings, and your thoughts get added to mine and I get the benefit of sharing my thoughts with you, and we are both enriched by it.
So how is this different from the exchange involving the water glass? There you get the benefit of the water and I get the benefit of your appreciation. The difference is that in that case I had no interest in the water, I involved myself in it only to accommodate you. Furthermore, I still continue to have the need for you appreciation. In the other case we are both interested in dark energy and get our satisfaction from exploring that topic, and sharing it is just a way to make it more interesting and enjoyable.