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Conflict Management Training in Virtual Reality: Partnering for Change

Nov 18, 2021 / SkillsVR

For essential workers, aggressive and unruly customers and members of the public have become a serious threat. As more and more news stories of essential and frontline workers encountering abuse pile up, it became evident to us that something needed to change. These individuals who go out everyday and help us continue living as normally as we possibly can need safety, and we felt that we could help.

That's how our Conflict Management training scenario was born, in partnership with one of the leading minds on the topic, Quinton Swanson! To learn more about this scalable, proactive, and intuitive response to frontline worker safety, keep on reading.

Rising Tensions, Rising Need

We all experience small conflicts every single day of our lives. For most people in the hospitality or customer service industry, this is even more prevalent. They are presented with customers who expect to benefit from a service. But sometimes, a miscommunication, unmet expectations, or external factors can trigger a conflict that escalates into something dangerous.

With the introduction of COVID-19, everyone is operating at a higher frequency of anxiety, anger, or volatility. It has changed the way people engage with each another, and essential workers encounter the brunt of these frustrations by sheer virtue of their position on the front line.

With this escalation in tension, there has been a simultaneous escalation in need for conflict management training. Essential workers need to know how to prioritize their safety in response to customers who are dealing with increased tension in their own lives.

We were faced by pressing challenges: how can that training be scalable, how can it deliver to anyone who puts the headset on, and how can we be sure it will be useful for someone as soon as they're exposed to a real conflict situation?

So we brought in an expert.

Meet Q, our In-House Safety Thought Leader

We're gamified learning experts, but when it comes to particular topic expertise, we partner with people who really know what they're talking about in their respective fields. In the conflict management space, we were lucky enough to partner with Quinton Swanson (his friends call him 'Q').

Quinton Swanson
Quinton Swanson, Safety Culture Expert

To deliver the best possible conflict management training at scale, we wanted to ensure our training methodology could meet every learner where they're at, incorporating their life experience and intuitive responses to conflict into their learning. Luckily, that's Q's speciality!

Q got his start on the police force. After discovering a gap in the conflict management niche, he developed his proactive, intuitive, and empowering methodology to address it. He's been travelling the world and training this conflict management methodology for a variety of organisations for over 30 years, delivering his expertise to a whole spectrum of different learners. From military experts to novices in need of some initial training, Q has myriad feathers in his cap, and we couldn't be more excited (and fortunate) to partner with him on this project.

What will we deliver with conflict management training in VR?

We have all the right ingredients: an excellent expert, a crack team of developers, and an incredible platform that can safely immerse learners in conflict situations. Blending them together results in a uniquely holistic teaching methodology, one that focuses on the following aspects of conflict management:

  • Understanding escalation: We teach the learner to identify three stages of emotionality – neutral, escalated, and violent – then respond to them in a way that facilitates de-escalation.
  • Physical and verbal projection: Additionally, we touch on the importance of understanding tones and gestures, both in the people with whom they're dealing and in how they project themselves. This is a powerful de-escalation tool!
  • Self-management: Situations escalate when emotions heighten and play off of one another, which is why a key part of our experience focuses on self-managing our emotions through tactical breathing.
  • Prioritizing safety: We draw a line in the sand, helping learners to identify when someone is violent and giving them permission to safely step back, evaluate, and exit the situation should they encounter someone violent.

Our approach is meant to empower the learner, giving them the tools to identify if someone is a threat to them based on their past experience, then creating pathways for them to safely get out of the situation. We take a contextual approach to this kind of training, allowing the learner to hear and then apply the information in bite-sized pieces while they practice in realistic conflict scenarios.

Most importantly, we want to make sure that this kind of training – the kind of training that can save people from getting seriously hurt – is easily available to those who need it. We believe in creating change for people in every space, addressing these adaptive skills in a way that allows them to be applied both in and out of work.

Gearing Up to Make Big Change

With this scalable solution on offer globally, the SkillsVR Conflict Management training scenario promises to make industry-leading conflict management training available to all essential workers. Become immersed in the possibilities; safely practice your conflict management skills; keep your workforce safe by upskilling them at scale.

Play, learn, and grow. Reach out to SkillsVR to discuss our Conflict Management training scenario today!

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