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10 Tips on How to Handle Chaldean Family Business Conflict
By Ray Yono :: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 :: 28449 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.