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10 Tips on How to Handle Chaldean Family Business Conflict
By Ray Yono :: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 :: 111317 Views :: Article Rating :: 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.  

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.