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Have you ever been in a situation at work where you witnessed something uncomfortable but were too afraid to say anything? Or maybe you just didn’t know how to handle the situation. I’ve been there too and it’s not the best scenario, in fact, it can feel downright icky.  

Very early in my career, I watched a VP come on strong to a coworker, he befriended her and gave her some additional opportunities at work. Then he loaned her money and they started dating “in secret.” Eventually, he had a meltdown and abandoned her. Her career stalled and she ultimately quit. Nobody ever said anything.  Not a single person! Well, okay, I started asking questions of her, but I still didn’t know what to say. And to this day, that whole thing still bothers me.

So what can we do? What can we do to prepare ourselves to handle awkward, uncomfortable or inexcusable behavior in the workplace?

Enter virtual reality. Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly, virtual reality could be the solution to the problem or at least address part of it.

In a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work, Morgan Mercer, founder and CEO of Vantage Point, joined me to talk about how virtual reality is paving the way to help us learn how to deal with difficult workplace scenarios with compassion and empathy.

Morgan and her company, Vantage Point, are using virtual reality to aid in anti-sexual harassment training. By using a standalone Virtual Reality headset (like an Oculus Rift), leaders, managers, and employees can now immerse themselves in a world of virtual reality where they can experience or witness sexual harassment. Then through a series of games, tests, or quizzes, they can learn how to deal with the situation.

In doing so, Morgan says, “The experience allows you to feel discomfort and we’ll tie those feelings to actions you can take to positively influence the outcome. And then we allow you to see the ways that these situations play out. Your feelings are then translated into information.”

But if VR technology can teach us to be compassionate and can teach us empathy, can it actually change behaviors and change attitudes?  

Morgan believes so, “You learn through adversity, you learn through discomfort, ultimately adversity and discomfort are what caused you to look inwardly and really question yourself. And that’s really where you shift your belief system. So through changing your heart, through changing your mind, then you change your behaviors. You can’t shift your behavior if you don’t shift your belief system or your values.”

If you want to hear some of the best ways to handle sexual harassment at work and how virtual reality is paving the way to help us learn how to deal with these scenarios, then click here to listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.