In today’s professional world, empathy is a highly sought-after human quality. While soft skills didn’t use to be the subject of much attention even just a few years ago, smooth, seamless and caring communication is now perfectly on trend. Far from constituting a “plus” to add to one’s resume to tip the scales in their favor, companies now decide to implement empathy training for their associates to learn how to develop this quality. Return on investment takes the shape of more sales, loyal customers and well-rounded employees who enjoy working together.
Knowing how to listen actively and how to see things from someone else’s perspective is a true skill, which should be learned and worked on. Training methods can indeed take very diverse forms, from awareness-raising courses to virtual reality training, an innovative solution Immersive Factory strongly advocates for. The company specializes in this novel type of learning experience and puts forth the benefits of a highly modern approach, particularly well suited to the challenges of the contemporary professional world.
Empathy Training: The Importance of Compelling Situations
Though some demonstrate a natural propensity to understanding in a professional setting, most people could benefit from a few pointers. There is much more complexity to such a quality than one might think. It calls for emotional intelligence, a cognitive perception of others’ psychological state and the ability to adjust one’s own behavior based on the situation.
Such concepts as empathetic management or empathetic sales techniques question the more assertive traditional models to substitute them with an approach based on subtle communication. Subtlety also implies deepening. In this context, the only true means of receiving empathy training is to “experience” situations that call for it, to be immersed in those situations. When emotions and empirical elements play an important part in teaching a specific set of skills, imparting theoretical knowledge is far from being sufficient. On the contrary, empathy training can only be conceived of through experience, sensation. However, testing one’s skills under “real” conditions by practicing on real-life customers or co-workers could pose a number of issues.
This is where virtual reality training comes in.
Real-Life Conditions, Anywhere and at Any Time
Role-playing can sometimes be complicated to implement because employees may not have the acting skills necessary for training to feel quite as compelling as it should. As for trainers with an acting background, the cost of their services can get high as they cannot interact with all the workers at once without negatively impacting the believability of the scenario.
This is what makes virtual reality training so beneficial. Through their VR headset, employees get to experience a variety of situations in the face of which they must exert their natural empathy along with the gestures and behaviors they learned about during theoretical training. Infinitely customizable, this type of empathy training does not set any time or place restrictions for the learners. They can also go through the same scenario again and again until they manage to “solve” it autonomously.
Another sizable difference VR has with theoretical learning or role-playing is the “lifelike” effect immersive learning has on the brain, which recognizes the events as real-life experiences. Virtual reality-based empathy training offers a 360-degree environment where all is done to simulate the real world to perfection. The settings reflect real-life locations and facilities and the characters that participate in every scenario are fully interactive. Their reactions – as a response to the learner’s actions – anchor the memories and allow the learner to internalize the right behaviors to adopt.
Real Life, but Better!
Another one of the characteristics of virtual reality training is that it completely eliminates any “fear of doing wrong”. Liberated from the worry that others may judge them or that they might make a substantial mistake, learners delve into the program and immerse themselves in it fully for the entire duration of the scenario. Indeed, when wearing a VR headset, scrolling down a smartphone or allowing oneself to get distracted is not at all convenient! The video game industry – where realism is the subject of much passion – was among the first to truly take advantage of what virtual reality has to offer. Businesses have now joined in and see it as an invitation to improve their teams’ skills and efficiency.
The future of empathy training as well as the way people learn about security, handling new equipment or how to perform new tasks seems all mapped out. HSE and QHSE training, for instance, have already adopted the concept and put it to good use
when simulating accidents, incidents, or dangerous situations. Thanks to virtual reality, learning methods can be targeted and tailored to match the needs of any individual. In addition, the solution comes at a cheaper price for businesses, which can reallocate their budget towards providing more diverse training or address completely different necessities.