What Would Someone Who Dislikes You Write in a Reference Letter?

Posted December 10, 2021 | Laura Christianson

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delightful novel, written entirely as a series of letters exchanged between Juliet Ashton and her new friends in Guernsey, immediately following World War II.

When Julia introduces herself to the Society members, she writes:

Since you should know something about me, I have asked the Reverend Simon Simpless, of St. Hilda’s Church near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, to write to you. He has known me since I was a child and is fond of me.

I have asked Lady Bella Taunton to provide a reference for me too. We were fire wardens together during the Blitz and she wholeheartedly dislikes me. Between the two of them, you may get a fair picture of my character.

That statement got me thinking: If someone who is not particularly fond of me wrote a reference, testimonial, or endorsement about me, what would they say?

Would the character reference from the person who dislikes me highlight the same qualities as the reference from the person who has known and loved me all my life?

In my business and in my life, I try to treat every person I meet as if she or he could become a testimonial.

That doesn’t mean I try to butter them up so I can get something from them; rather, it’s a reminder to strive for congruency in all aspects of my life. I want to be the same person when I’m chatting with a client or teaching a workshop as I am in my role as wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.

I don’t always succeed at being congruent, but it’s an ideal I strive for every day.

What about you?

How important is being congruent to you?

Do you know people who are incongruent (please don’t share identifying information)? If so, how does their lack of congruency affect you?

If you had to ask someone who doesn’t like you to write you a character reference, what would they say?

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