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Juxtaposition of Adversity Quotient and Emotional Quotient – Prof. Shurlly Tiwari

June 25th, 2021.

Recently, a very close friend of mine lost his 15-year-old son to cancer. Exactly after one month his father also passed away with Covid-19. At that moment his wife is battling Covid in a hospital in Gurgaon. Knowing this I thought of talking to him, and for that I had to prepare myself mentally. What will I say, how should I console him? What questions will he ask me? Whether he will blame destiny?

I gathered courage, and dialled his number, and to my surprise I found that he is still full of life, enthusiasm and hope. During our conversation he never made me feel his pain instead was giving me doses of positivity and hope. He shared his experience and gave me lot of insights about life and destiny.

This incident shook me and made me realise his power, power of resilience, power of bouncing back, power of being positive and power of understanding others’ pain. During our conversation he narrated his pain of performing the last rites for his father alone. His grief of making his 10-year-old son understand the demise of his elder brother. While speaking to him, I was disturbed but he sounded positive and hopeful. This became mystery for me.

Just to give you background about my friend, he is working as a senior manager in a reputed MNC in Gurgaon. Last year he received the award of “Best People’s Manager”. This scenario made me look out for some answers about human behaviour and I came across this concept of “Adversity Quotient

What is Adversity Quotient?

Dictionary meaning of Adversity Quotient is ‘a great affliction or hardship; a misfortune.’ In a life, an individual faces adversity in the form of setbacks or losses. In simple language, we can also state AQ as that power of an individual to bounce back or display resilience. Then, how is AQ different from resilience?

Research states a major difference between AQ and resilience and the difference is- individual reaction. Resilience generates an immediate reaction by an individual, which is originated through his/her pain and they don’t look for the opportunity from that pain whereas AQ looks for an opportunity in the pain and use it for the internal motivation of the individual.

Dr. Paul Stolz defines AQ as a “reaction to the situation”. Adversity can come in anybody’s life without warning and affect family, health, relationships, career or financial status and nobody is ever prepared for handling adversity. There are no courses taught to the students which can enable them to handle adversity, there is no “pre-decided protocol to handle adversity”. Adversity quotient (AQ) is the power of an individual to be resilient – to deal and cope up with inevitable and detrimental conditions. AQ is the score that measures the capability of the person to deal with the adversity in his life. It can be articulated as the science of resilience. The term – “Adversity Quotient” was coined by Dr. Paul Stoltz in 1997 in his book ‘Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities’.

Researches have shown positive results in performance of employees whose AQ scores are high. Now that it is established the AQ is a necessary ingredient in an individual, the next question is how do we know what is the degree of AQ an individual possesses. Stoltz, 1997 has developed an assessment tool that measures an individual’s competency to cope when dealing with adversity. There are four key components, acronymically pronounced as CORE.

  1. Control over adversity.
  2. Origin and Ownership dimension
  3. Reach (effect of the adversity on the person’s other parts of life).
  4. Endurance is the time in which one anticipates the adversity to end.

EQ vs AQ

Emotional Quotient is another metric researcher would generally associate in measuring one’s ability of handling one’s self in any given situation. Does AQ originates from EQ? Is the combination of EQ and AQ is important to live a successful and satisfied life?

To understand Emotional Quotient, we need to understand Emotional Intelligence. According to Dr. Goleman, EI is a set of skills or competencies, which provide human resource professionals, managers, and anyone in the world of work, with a comprehen­sive tool to define, measure and develop emotional skills. Emotional intelligence can also be defined as the capacity to recognize our own feelings and those of others for motivating ourselves and managing emotions well in our social interactions.

Emotional Quotient was used as a term by Salovey and Mayer, for the first time. Emotions were referred to as intelligence and the ability to manage one’s emotions is measured through emotional quotient. According to Kumbanaruk & Maetheeponkul adversity quotient has a positive relation with emotional quotient.

Emotions when understood well, can help in developing emotional intelligence. Emotions are directly related to the brain structure of the human being.

Emotional Intelligence has got Four basic features

  1. Emotional Self-awareness (self-assessment & self Confidence)
  2. Empathy (social awareness, organisational awareness)
  3. Emotional Self Control
  4. Relationship building (leadership, conflict management and team work

Research states that each individual deal differently with their emotions. At an organisational level, it’s been proven that the thought processes of traditional thinkers are very different from the High performers. Traditional people think that Emotions distract them and make them less focused. They increase the vulnerability of the individual and also clouds their decision-making power and judgement skills. Whereas, the modern thinker and those who believe that emotions are responsible for giving motivation and if controlled and channelized they can deliver tremendous results. As they believe that Emotions are responsible for increasing the confidence, help in speeding up the analysis, it builds trust and provide vital feedback.

Are there explanations linking EQ with AQ, as both are metrics measuring a human’s ability to handle one-self in a given situation? Singh & Sharma (2017), researched this question and found a strong positive relation between the AQ and EQ. They did a research on 670 mid-level managers of top five industries of the service sector. Study emphasised the importance of emotional intelligence in handling adversities by service sector managers. They did found a strong presence of AQ in those whose EQ were high.

Many such studies point towards the importance of AQ and EQ for individuals/ employees. In the above discussed real life case of my friend, his competency to adjust with adversity helps him to develop control over his emotions. This specific quality not only helps him in overcoming the situation, but, also helps him to take charge of the situation and help his family, his AQ encouraged him to overcome the adversities of his life and his EQ has helped him to rediscover himself.

In Summary…

In these trying times, when a small virus is testing the patience of humanity. A control on one’s emotions as well as on one’s resilience is of utmost importance. Fortunately, or unfortunately this skill is not taught in any education institute but is taught in the biggest institute called “LIFE”. Together we all have to keep on building our quotients and keep on learning and growing. In an employee’s life, there could be challenges at their workplace or in their personal life. Research states that people with high AQ and EQ can survive for longer than compared to the individuals whose AQ or EQ is comparatively low.

But there could be many instances in the personal and professional life of an individual where AQ and EQ can be seen as completely disconnected traits. Author believes that there are many factors and levels at which the impact of AQ and EQ of an individual can vary, like culture, parenting, groups and environment. This relation of AQ and EQ can also be studied at organisational level, Individual level and Group level. These factors and levels can be further researched and analysed by future researchers.

Author suggests, that since the AQ and EQ are very important these two should be incorporated in the curriculum of students, so that they are well equipped to handle the adversities of the corporate world tomorrow.


  • The emotional intelligent workplace: how to select for measure , and improve Emotional Intelligence in individuals , groups and organisations. Spencer, l.M.(2000).
  • Effect of emotional intelligence on adversity quotient of Indian managers, S Singh and T Sharma,2017.
  • Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities Paul G. Stoltz, ISBN: 978-0-471-17892-7 April 1997
  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test™ Personal Summary Report By John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey & David R. Caruso

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