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Men from Mars, Women from Venus – Maybe Not!

The common perception is that differences between the minds of men and women are substantial. Our experts find the differences to be lesser:

Sunita Handa. Chief General Manager, (IT Channels & Ops), Global IT Centre at State Bank of India: It may be risky to generalize on the basis of gender. Even though we are equal in our overall EQ, men and women are said to possess different EQ strengths or competencies that are considered gender-specific. In general, women tend to score higher than men in areas of empathy, interpersonal relationships and social responsibility and men higher than women in areas of assertiveness, stress tolerance and self-regard.

It’s important to remember that not all men and women fall into these stated gender-specific EQ patterns. People are strong in all different EQ traits, with many having raised the level of their overall emotional intelligence with just a little bit of focus and effort. Unlike personality or IQ, EQ for men and women can improve with age.

Psychologist Ruth Malloy at the HayGroup Boston studies excellence in leaders. She finds that when you only look at the stars – leaders in the top 10% of business performance – gender differences in emotional intelligence abilities are a wash out: the men are as good as the women and the women as good as the men, across the board.

Ritu Nazir, Chief Marketing Officer at Raheja QBE General Insurance: If you ask any woman, the first answer will be that there is a big difference and that there is no comparison. Most women will crib that their husbands do not understand so many things. If you ask me personally, I feel that gender does not define emotional intelligence and men are also emotionally intelligent. The only difference is awareness.

If there is a situation which has gone bad, men will react to it in a different manner compared to women. Women may come back to it again and again and spoil their day thinking about it. Men may sulk about it for half an hour, but then they will do something which gets them back on track and divert their energy somewhere else. Both men and women have a different way of dealing with a situation. So, I personally feel that it is not that women are better, but I do feel that there are certain aspects where women are better and there are certain aspects where men are better. For example, when it comes to empathy, women will be far more empathetic. But when it comes to managing stress, I think men will be better. Bottomline, I would not say that men are less emotionally intelligent than women.

Loveena Khatwani, Head – Client Experience at Edelweiss Wealth Management: Well, it is perceived that women are emotionally intelligent than men since they come with more emotions. But statistically both men and women have been shown to be equally emotionally intelligent. But what could differ might be the ability to use these skills in specific areas. For example, women tend to fare better than men when it comes to empathizing and men tend to be better in other areas like being assertive and practical in evolving solutions. Hence, it is quite difficult to put a score card and state one gender is better off than the other.

Rajashree Nambiar, Former MD & CEO at Fullerton India Credit Company: I have been saying that women are naturally endowed but I cannot say that for sure. I have seen a lot of men display very strong emotional intelligence. As they say you are quite a bit influenced by your first boss. My first boss was a male. And earlier on in my career I saw him display very strong emotional intelligence. In my own experience, there is not a lot of difference between the two.

Purvi Bhavsar, Managing Director at Pahal Financial Services: Certainly – at least in my context – I feel women can sympathize and empathize very effortlessly at times and that gives her an edge at times.

Shikha Bagai, Country Managing Director – India at VISTRA Group: Characterizing based on gender is not fair. It is more a function of how you grow up and what kind of experiences you go through, what are the choices you make and what is it that you are pursuing. It is more about specific experiences.

Rupa Balsekar: I would not like to generalize emotional intelligence. It is rather a series of life experiences and journey which contribute to the EI of a person.

Rishika Dasgupta, Head – Customer Experience (Cards & Payments Business) at Axis Bank: I don’t think it is gender dependent. We as women tend to express it more than men. Haven’t we all heard ‘the crying baby gets the milk’.? As women, we get more attention and that is why it is perhaps a perceived thought that women are more emotionally intelligent.

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