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10 Tips on How to Handle Chaldean Family Business Conflict
By Ray Yono :: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 :: 92055 Views :: Career & Education, Community & Culture, Business & Finance

Chaldean family businesses present a unique set of conflict resolution strategies at the workplace.  Conflicts at home or at the business, whether they’re interpersonal or purely business, are an unavoidable fact of the Chaldean family business life.

But a disagreement doesn’t have to end with hardship and hurt feelings. Employing smart psychology can help younger Chaldeans handle conflict wisely with their seniors and end up with a solution that works best for everyone.

Dr. Nabil Rafou, a Chaldean social psychologist who is an expert in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and leadership, shares some of the tactics that work among Chaldean family businesses.  “These ten tips work particularly well given the Chaldean cultures blended history,” Dr. Rafou says. 

1. Talk face-to-face.
“Chaldean seniors prefer direct contact and consider messengers, phone calls, or other not direct contact as a sign of disrespect.  This is in line with many studies that have shown any kind of negotiation is best done face to face,” he says. “More than 55 percent of any message depends on the nonverbal cues.”  As the minor in the negotiations one should be mindful of gestures, facial expressions, and body language when talking to the senior.  “Exposing your back during the talks is considered an insult and belittling to the senior.  Other expressions such as throwing hands-up, swatting, or aggressive posturing send combative signals and undermines the negotiation.” 

2. Empathize.
Chaldean seniors have overcome some staggering odds.  Their level of achievement and habit of having to scrape, fight, push, pull, and climb to a position of success has created a habit of aggressiveness.  Use empathy to disarm a difficult situation and ease frustrations.  Put yourself in your senior’s shoes; say something like, “I understand why you’re angry. If I paid for my son’s car and living expenses and he failed to show up to work, I’d be unhappy too.”

3. Don’t Suck Up.
Ingratiation is always risky, says Dr. Rafou, because it makes the Chaldean senior suspect you are disingenuous or have a hidden agenda.   In a family business all members are going to have detail insight on your pattern of behavior.  

4. Keep Cool.
Remain calm and friendly in the face of aggression. Ignore insults and don’t get baited into losing your temper. ”It’s very hard to be nasty to someone who keeps calm,” says Dr. Rafou.  “Be patient and keep your temper.  Raising your voice, slamming your hand, or pacing only makes the other side want to be more aggressive in proving their point.”

5. Find Common Ground.
“You want to seek areas of commonality and stress them,” says Dr. Rafou. “When people feel similar they are more likely to view each other positively. For instance, if a father want’s his son to work the evening shit and the son prefers not to, find common ground by telling the father how important it was for him as a young man to have time for himself and how that helped him succeed.  Emphasize that you want the same opportunity to succeed by having some evening time to yourself to help you become the success your father has become.”

6. Invite Collaboration.
When all else fails restate the goals as you understand them from both perspectives and ask everyone to brainstorm a solution with you; this defines the situation as a mutual problem instead of a “you versus me” conflict.

7. Listen More Than You Talk.
This is hard for Chaldean minors who think they know the world much better than their parents or seniors.  When the senior is talking, don’t spend your quiet time crafting a rebuttal; try to understand his perspective instead of just finding ways to buttress yours.

8. Avoid blame and Issue Expansion.
Focus on the problem at hand instead of arguing about who is at fault or bringing up past transgressions.

9. Stay Flexible and Open-Minded.
Be willing to be creative to find a solution. Don’t automatically dismiss the other person’s suggestions as crazy or unworkable.

10. Finally, Don’t Set Solutions In Stone.
Agree to revisit the agreement down the road to make sure it’s still working.

When negotiating with Chaldean family members, remember respect. listening, and empathy are very important.  No one should act as if the other side is ignorant, inexperienced, or feelings are unimportant.  

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.