Sphere of Influence: Every Day, Training in the New Global Village Becomes Less and Less Intimidating Thanks to What We Know about How We Affect Each Other in the Business World

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The cover of a recent U.S. business magazine posed the question: "Will your people follow your lead?" While this is a good question for leaders to consider, it is also a powerful question that we as trainers should ask ourselves because our ultimate achievement rests in the ability to effectively influence decision makers and participants in the organizations where we deliver training. Rather than focusing on our role and content, and trusting that our participants will adjust to us, it is increasingly important that we establish an environment of inclusion and influence, particularly in international training programs.

As people interact around a shrinking globe, both in person and electronically, the ability to build and strengthen relationships right from the beginning is absolutely critical to the success of projects and organizations. Trainers who lack the ability to nurture relationships or who are pressured to deliver immediate results without taking the time to establish a foundation of rapport, tend to be less productive in the long run. So how does one build relationships, strengthen positive influence, and establish an environment of inclusion when working with audiences around the globe?

Relationships first

In his 1936 book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie suggested three sets of principles to build productive relationships that support an environment of inclusion and influence. These time-honored principles can be successfully applied in today's global business environment. Here is a brief overview of important principles for building influence and inclusion:

1. Fundamental techniques for strengthening relationships. Relationships built on trust are the foundation for successful influence and inclusion. Carnegie identified principles that can help international businesspeople connect with their global counterparts effectively to work toward common goals. Principles such as "Become genuinely interested in other people," "Give honest and sincere appreciation," and "Be a good listener; encourage others to talk about themselves," can be invaluable in establishing successful relationships in person or via technology.

2. How to win people to your way of thinking. These principles contain advice for influencing both individual and team action and cooperation. Carnegie demonstrated by example how a thorough understanding of another's point of view is the basis for successful collaboration. Principles such as "Show respect for the other person's opinion," and "Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires," enable professionals to build cooperation even in the most diverse work groups.

3. How to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment.

A leader who has established credibility and earned trust can then influence others to make positive changes--without offending anyone. Principles

such as "Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly," "Let the other person save face" and "Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to" establish an environment where team members and training participants can embrace change more readily because they feel they are helping to build a new direction rather than being given a new approach to follow.

While the principles make good sense for leaders and trainers, it can be difficult to incorporate many diverse opinions, especially if leaders or trainers fail to champion their own ideas and let their own contributions be watered down. To garner more influence in a global environment, business leaders and trainers need to shift their focus from diversity to inclusion. Rather than focusing on what makes people different, leaders can achieve the most with others by exemplifying the common goal of the team and how each team member can add value to the desired outcome based on their unique contributions. Trainers, too, can apply Carnegie's principles to help participants interact effectively with their counterparts from around the world. …