Book review – The courage to be disliked

Picture of the book, courage to be disliked

Do you have the courage to be disliked?

Your mind starts to race and you feel a bit nauseous as one of your friends tells you that someone dislikes you. You try to think about all the ways you can do something to change the feeling or you go into anger and say, “I don’t like that person either so who cares if they dislike me.” 

The courage to be disliked is one of the best books I have ever read. The book itself is not complex to read and easy to get through. Although the ideas are simple, they will take more than a lifetime to practice. Here are a few of the ideas this book speaks about and how I have thought about them. 

Horizontal and Vertical Relationships

In life, we have two types of relationships and different degrees of them. In vertical relationships, the “superior” will provide advice and direction for the “novice”.

In a horizontal relationship, people are equals with different skill sets,each is seen as a human with their own value. 

In life we want to strive to have horizontal relationships because they allow for collaboration, support and true friendships. 

Here is how this idea has shifted my perspective: 

At work, the pure structure of the organization is a vertical relationship. Though my relationship with my manager and director are more horizontal, my relationships with VP’s and higher ups are purely vertical. The way I thought about it was, “I don’t know the VP’s that well, so I’m afraid of saying something that would be taken out of context.”

Now, I see them as people with different roles and responsibilities. It doesn’t matter which part of the organization they are in. I’ll treat them with the same respect I’d treat anyone else and speak to them the way I would with any other professional relationship at work. We are working towards the same goal and by using the separation of tasks below, how they perceive me is their task and not mine.


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Separation of tasks

This concept was something that stood out for me. The separation of tasks is the invisible line that is drawn around what you are responsible for and what another person is responsible for. Let me try to clarify with some examples.

My relationship with my mother. For the longest time, I tried to encourage my mom to do physical activity, eat better, etc. The reason why is that I have a fear that as my mother gets older, she will become less and less mobile and it hurts me to see her struggle. Because of this, I made it my task to force her to make healthier choices. I created a vertical relationship and one that does not make me or my mother happy. 

Instead, how I view this is that “my task is to provide suggestions and be there for support. It is my mother’s task to decide what she must do. Although her pain and growing older will have an emotional effect on me, that is my task to deal with. Her task is to want to manage her own physical and mental health. If the day comes that she asks me for support, I’ll be there.” 

Another example

This is a question I’ve battled for a while and finally this concept helped me make sense of the answer. I have taken a lot of emotional intelligence (EQ) classes and regularly see a counsellor to strengthen my EQ. The issue that arose with this was that I am in control of how I feel about things. When dealing with situations where someone feels bad about something I said, or how I react. I knew that I could use my emotional intelligence to change my perspective on it and make the other person feel comfortable. The issue with doing this was that the other person would never grow, they wouldn’t come against any resistance and therefore not need to change.

How my view of this has evolved now:

If I’m in an argument or disagreement where I agree that something doesn’t align with my values, I’ll use my emotional intelligence to try and change. Though, if something doesn’t align with my values and I don’t agree with the situation. I use the separation of tasks to deal with it. I’ll say my piece and accept the areas in which I am wrong, but will push back on the area’s I believe the other person needs to change. Therefore, making it their task to be responsible for their own growth and feelings.

The courage to be disliked

We all know but hate to admit that not everyone in life will like you. The courage to be happy in life is also linked to the courage of being disliked. If you are living a life that you love and that is aligned with your values and who you want to be. If one day, someone doesn’t like you for that, great, tough luck for them. That is their task and yours is to continue doing what makes you happy. As soon as we change who we are for someone to like us, we are living a life lie, one that doesn’t benefit you in the long run. You end up living a life for others and not for yourself. 

So have the courage to be disliked and live the life you want to live 🙂

I absolutely love this book and there are so many more thoughts and ideas I’ll share over time. 

If you’d like to get the book, feel free to use my affiliate link here: 

Chat soon,

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2 Responses

  1. Wow Behdad, this was great! Both lessons spoke to me and particularly the second one put some past events into perspective for me. Thanks for the share!

    1. Hey Jonathan, I’m glad you liked it! This book put a lot of things in perspective for me too. I’m excited to write more around some of the content when I get some time.

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