Teaching Emotional Intelligence Through VR

June 24th 2022

Virtual reality (VR) software is starting to be more widely used in different aspects of life outside of entertainment and games. A previous report by PwC predicted that VR technology will be used by 23.5 million jobs all over the world as a medium for training, conducting work meetings, and providing better customer service. The immersive software will be utilized by different industries to have a hands-on means of instruction in a safe and controlled environment. Aside from practical and technical skills training, VR also has a role in enhancing employees' soft skills, specifically those needed to excel in their professions, with emotional intelligence being one of the most vital ones today.

The importance of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not only an important part of human development, but it is also essential in many industries. It helps individuals set expectations for themselves, deal with challenges, and succeed in their professional lives through rational decision-making. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves explain in their book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 how this skill helps employees successfully pursue their goals. They discuss how emotional intelligence accounts for 58% of an employee's performance. They cite its four essential aspects – self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management – to be necessary for workers to be holistically competent.

Bradberry and Greaves also give metrics on how to better assess an employee's emotional intelligence and provide strategies managers can use to better train workers, including the use of technology like VR. It is also a great resource for learning practical strategies like creating an emotion vs logic list, respecting others' feelings, and observing how personal emotions affect fellow employees.

With emotional intelligence so critical to a company’s success, utilizing the latest tech innovations can make training more fruitful and impactful in the long run. As VR continues to rise in instructing employees, there are many reasons why it can be a useful tool when it comes to teaching this all-important skill.

Why use VR

Better knowledge retention
It’s no secret that individuals have their own learning techniques, making traditional seminars and lectures ineffective for many. VR is used to gamify lessons, helping employees have a more enjoyable and interactive experience when it comes to training. This results in better knowledge retention. Our past article on The Evolution of Higher Education explains how this learning software gives people a more proactive role when it comes to their training. Companies will find that workers become more engaged when VR is used as the medium of instruction. VR's immersive nature allows them to visualize and better apply what they have learned in the workplace to real-world situations.

Less chance of alienating people
Many VR programs are run by artificial intelligence (AI) that simulates different scenarios that employees may have to deal with– whether it's within the office or during their interactions with clients. People are imperfect and can sometimes do or say the wrong thing, leading to them accidentally alienating others or embarrassing themselves during training sessions. VR devices reduce the chances of this happening since they will mostly be practising with AI. Employees will be free to truly explore their possible responses and fully understand why one answer might be better than the other. VR programs create a safe and judgment-free environment for them to really develop their emotional intelligence.

More efficient training
A previous study by Dartmouth University found that the amount of time needed to train employees was significantly lower when VR technology was being used as opposed to traditional media. These devices do not lessen the quality of instruction by any means either, making them more cost-effective in the long run. Emotional intelligence is a skill that is best developed over time, but using VR equips employees with the necessities and basics right off the bat, giving them the right tools to get them off the ground and learn from their mistakes. The AI in these devices also give useful and concise feedback that employees can use to truly hone their capabilities, making training more efficient.

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