Soft skills are by very definition human skills — those qualities that make us better able to connect with and inspire action in others. Listening, collaborating, problem solving, and embracing adaptability are some of the keys to achieving lasting personal and professional success. How you fit into and elevate a group’s dynamic is a barometer for an individual’s capacity for meaningful contributions and thoughtful leadership.
Translation: The stakes to learn and master human skills are incredibly high. And, unlike hard skills — those technical proficiencies that are mostly learned in school or on the job and evaluated by objective data — soft skills are difficult to measure and even more complex to practice.
When professionals grasp the inherent risks associated with training for these skills, they may feel at the very least awkward or, at worst, singled out, when attempting to rehearse them in a workplace environment where role play with colleagues or other traditional methods of learning are favored.
Enter the exciting possibilities of virtual reality.
The Case for Anonymity
Virtual reality simulations offer the safest place for managers and their employees to practice human skills, from leadership development to dismantling implicit and unconscious biases. By creating an opportunity for professionals to undertake challenging discussions within an environment where they can try and fail until they feel confident in real-world situations, VR provides the ideal context for being vulnerable and open to learning an intricate and intangible set of skills.
Simulating realistic and relatable workplace surroundings and scenarios via VR settings and lifelike avatars creates a sense of presence and plausibility in learners, allowing them to experience a high-stakes situation without the potential drawbacks of an in-person method of learning. When a learner feels “put on the spot” or is in fear of repercussions from the contents of their discussion, the circumstances for learning are diminished.
In a 2008 study by Dr. Jonathan Cabiria on virtual world engagement, he notes from his findings that, “The structure and design of virtual worlds allows its users to freely explore many facets of their personalities in ways that are not easily available to them in real life.”
Free to Be Me
One reason for this freedom of exploration can be attributed to the anonymity that simulations supply. It gives the individual the ability to be free from social norms, office politics, or expectations they may face in their personal and professional real-world lives.
Mursion’s virtual reality platform presents a tactical solution: Our simulations feature a powerful combination of artificial intelligence and “human-in-the-loop” technology, granting users the advantages of speaking with an avatar that is guided by an actual human being. This construct creates a safe haven for re-creating challenging conversations while simultaneously offering the learner complete obscurity. We have found that this blend builds a shield of protection and permits authentic interactions where purposeful change can take place.
When taking a deep dive into complicated, sometimes long-held beliefs, removing the layer of recognition that comes with knowing the person on the receiving end of your criticisms — how ever constructive they may be — empowers the learner to speak freely and therefore receive true feedback and potentially unearth and affect deep-seated truths.
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