The one emotional intelligence competency I’ve worked on harder than everything else is empathy.

Yet in all this time, never once did I look up and ponder its opposite. While intuitively, and perhaps publicly, I believed it was something along the lines of selfishness, I was wrong.

So I looked up its antonyms and found the following: hard-heartedness, mercilessness, pitilessness, ruthlessness, uncharitableness, disdain, hatred, indifference, disagreement, discord, and disunity.

The more I reflected on these, the more I wondered how these things show up.

Do we know where such feelings and attitudes come from? When have we actually questioned them? Why and how do they show up in our roles as leaders? Do they arise when we speak with certain people or discuss certain topics? Are there moments when we repress them to get what we want?

And if they show up regularly, how truly empathetic – how emotionally intelligent – are we?

Even if we don’t like the answers, the beauty of emotional intelligence is that the more we reflect on them, the more we probe them, the more we do with them…the more emotionally intelligent we eventually become.