Home case studies New Research in EQ : The Paradox of EQ in India

New Research in EQ : The Paradox of EQ in India

Andrea Stone examines India’s emotional intelligence through the lens of its greatest strengths, areas of opportunity, and notable demographic trends.


What if your ability to think logically and arrive at a considered choice significantly outstrips your ability to successfully navigate the emotions that accompany that choice?

You make a decision, but you don’t follow through on it – or you do follow through on it, but execute it ineffectively.

Sounds somewhat unfortunate, right? It also sounds like a great opportunity.

Based on recently concluded research, this is the situation India finds itself in: a clear strength in applying consequential thinking and a clear development opportunity in navigating emotions.

Explore Key Findings

This report by Stone Leadership Consulting examines India’s emotional intelligence through the lens of its greatest strengths, areas of opportunity, and notable demographic trends.

Overall emotional intelligence in India has declined since 2016, mirroring a global trend.

The paradox of India’s emotional intelligence data is that it shows a remarkable ability to analyze data cognitively, but real challenges with utilizing emotional data in decision making.

The gender gap in India is even bigger than the global dataset, driven by women’s higher self-awareness scores.

The dominant Brain Style in India is Strategist, emphasizing the collective focus on rational data.

How is emotional intelligence working? The top Success Factor is Effectiveness; the lowest is Relationships.

The Practical Upshot? Emotional Energy Takes Over.

Scenario One: Inability to Manage Own Emotions

Imagine you’re someone who likes to jump in and get moving, based on a couple of data points, a strong gut-sense, and without too much analysis. Now, imagine you’re dealing with a colleague who focuses on collecting as many facts as possible, gathers in-depth data, and considers different perspectives before making a decision. You know that to be successful when interacting with your colleague, you need to slow down, hear them out, and take them step by step through your approach, so that they are comfortable moving ahead.

You know this. You know that if you rush ahead, you’ll lose them. Still, you are excited by the opportunity and dive headfirst into sharing why it’s essential to move ahead immediately. You don’t ask for their thoughts or concerns – or even the experience they may have had in this area. You just keep pushing.

In spite of having thought through the scenario and figured out the best way to deal with this person – and therefore the best way to support your goal and possibly your organization’s growth, you blew it. You didn’t manage your own emotional energy in a way that would engage your colleague and help them feel a valued part of the decision and decision-making process.

Your ‘apply consequential thinking’ was wasted because you couldn’t successfully ‘navigate emotions’. In this instance, you failed to consider and manage your own emotions – your passion, excitement and fascination with the project – and this caused you to dive right in – and sink.

Scenario Two: Inability to Manage Your Response to Others’ Emotional Energy

Imagine you’ve considered the optimal approach for a project – the way the software needs to be coded – and you’re really proud of your breakthrough insights. However, you know others on the team prefer a different approach. One of those team members is very close to your boss. You don’t want to have to deal with the push-back from the team, and especially that team member – and possibly your boss, so you keep quiet and follow the previously discussed approach.

Rather than holding back, you could have chosen a different approach. You could have capitalized on your insight, and in spite of your concerns, you could have used your strong analytical skills to figure out a way to present your perspective to your team members – a way that excites their interest and curiosity.

Instead, you avoided having to deal with a situation where you would need to manage your own emotions in the face of others’ emotional energy. You took the short-term ‘safer’ option.

You could have prepped yourself to speak up and been open to the response – and possibly encouraged a sharing of perspectives that led to a more considered decision. You may – and may not – have been able to influence others. But you would have been practicing emotional intelligence.

Failing to Navigate Emotions and Capitalize on a Stand-Out Strength

Emotional intelligence is about blending thinking and feeling skills to make smarter decisions.

It seems India has perfected one half of the equation – the ability to apply logical thinking – but is leaving a lot of opportunity on the table when it comes to analyzing emotions and harnessing emotional energy.

The skill to analyze data exists in buckets. How about using that ability to analyze data to understand what is going on with the feelings part of the equation?

Data in Emotions

There is data in emotions. If you’re feeling mildly anxious ahead of the annual appraisal, what’s the data in that mild anxiety?

Perhaps you didn’t prepare fully for the interaction, or perhaps some of your best work was early on in the year and recently you’ve dropped a few balls – and you know your boss tends to look only at the last quarter at appraisal time. Or maybe you saw your boss earlier in the day and they appeared to be in a bad mood.

You’ve done the analysis – now how will you make those insights work for you?

  • Will you take 30 minutes at lunchtime to more fully prep and collect evidence that reflects your performance?
  • Knowing that a coffee in the afternoon helps your boss relax, will you suggest grabbing a coffee together ahead of the appraisal?
  • Will you mentally and emotionally prep yourself and choose some ready phrases to keep the discussion upbeat and constructive – so that when your boss focuses on the recent performance you are ready to jump in: ‘Yes, I did miss some of the recent targets and we can talk about that. I’d also like to reflect on my performance in Q1 & Q2’

Harness Emotional Energy

In India, people lack a solid ability to navigate emotions to arrive at a desired outcome. In the example above, the person may be feeling mild anxiety. Anxiety is emotional energy. Once analyzed, the emotional energy can be channeled differently. It can be channeled into taking assertive action – both anxiety and assertiveness require energy – which might serve you best in this situation?

Emotions arise to serve us, but because our emotional brain is much older than our rational brain, our emotional brain springs into action first. Our emotional brain is conditioned by several factors, such as our environment and our upbringing – the expectations others have of us and we have of ourselves. These expectations – and the emotions they trigger – can also hold us back from moving ahead with the decisions we’ve made rationally.

Work on the Balancing Act

For anyone who recognizes their behaviour here, and sees India’s EQ paradox in themselves, the request is to work on balancing your feeling and thinking skills – analyzing the data in your emotions and channeling the accompanying energy into action that better serves you and your goals.

India’s EQ Paradox

The full report on India’s EQ Paradox is available for download here.

If you are intrigued and want to know more, or investigate how EQ is showing up in you or your team and its impact on success, do reach out and schedule time with me.

Andrea Stone is a leadership coach and consultant, skilled in supporting leaders and their teams build emotional intelligence to create greater success. She is a preferred partner of #SixSeconds, global leaders in research and assessments in EQ.