Finansforbundet trains difficult conversations in VR

Union representatives under Finansforbundet can now practice difficult conversations with their boss in virtual reality as part of the training program. In a safe but realistic environment, union representatives can practice their communication and messages again and again and become better at handling difficult conversations.

The VR experience is part of an overall training course to prepare union representatives to handle one of the tasks that especially new representatives find difficult.

Virtual Reality Training

Boost conversation skills

Strengthen Soft skills in VR

Why: VR is a good time to train soft skills the hard way

Finansforbundet, the Danish union for people working in the field of finance, offers a wide range of courses to their members. One of them is a training course for union representatives that contains all the elements that a good union representative must master. Everything from collective agreements to handling difficult conversations with colleagues who have been fired or have problems at home are part of the curriculum.

One of the first things a union representative needs to establish is the alignment of expectations about time spent with his or her boss. Especially for new union representatives, experience shows that this conversation is more difficult than you might think.

Therefore, training these one-on-one meetings with senior management is included as part of the educational process, and in the future, the practical part of the training will take place in VR.

In a new VR experience that Virsabi has developed for Finansforbundet, you are in a meeting with a slightly troublesome boss. In the experience, you have a conversation with the manager, and depending on your statements, the leader reacts in different ways – so you can either have a constructive dialogue or end up in a tense conflict.

The experience has no conclusion. The point is that the participants get to reflect on how they themselves plan for the collaboration to proceed and how they respond to both negative and positive responses from the sometimes somewhat caricatured boss. Usually, this type of learning takes place through role-playing in classroom teaching.

But by putting the experience in VR, both an emotional connection is created with the virtual avatar leader, and participants can try out many different answer options and experience the consequences on their own body and mind, without it becoming a laughable event in the way that role-playing often does. Subsequently, the teachers can pick up on the course and discuss with the individual course participants why they chose the answers they did.

What: Sweat-inducing conversation with the manager

The VR experience starts in a metaspace created for Finansforbundet, where the participants, following a few instructions, move into a meeting room where they meet their busy boss. But the learning experience begins long before that, because the experience for Finansforbundet is created as part of a blended learning process. So, although in principle you do not need any prerequisites to try the experience, the participants have already been taught the importance of the so-called §9 conversation and have become familiar with various dialogue tools to de- or escalate conflicts.

They will use this learning in the VR experience, and afterwards they can evaluate how it went together with the teachers. In contrast to role-playing games, there is also ample opportunity for all participants to play through the situation several times.

The initial metaspace provides an opportunity to later expand with many more learning experiences in VR within the same educational path.

How: Complex history based on values

In the experience, you sit across from your manager. She speaks to you, and then you are presented with two or three options that you can give in response. Your response triggers a new action from the manager, and you are again presented with different options.

The conversation does not follow a linear course but is structured in the same way as a computer game, and there are several different outcomes of how the conversation ends. Thus, the VR experience simulates a difficult conversation in reality, where the union representatives are faced with a complex situation that has no definite result.

The whole story and both the manager’s and your statements have been developed in close collaboration between Virsabi and Finansforbundet. Virsabi has ensured the flow of the story and built the visual universe, while Finansforbundet has built scenarios and made the story fit both to their overall teaching course and to the reality that their union representatives are in the workplaces.

Once again, virtual reality is proving to be a powerful tool for training soft skills as well.

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Virsabi is a company that explores the intersection of creativity and technologies and is one of the first Virtual – and Augmented Reality dedicated companies offering both business advisory work and technical development for the utilization of Virtual Production, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality and other new visualization technologies.