Word Choice – Dislike Versus Do Not Like

Jennifer’s question: “A bone of contention has arisen as to whether ‘dislike’ is synonymous with ‘do not like.’ For example, I maintain that the statements ‘We do not like tardiness’ and ‘We dislike tardiness’ are synonymous.”
BizWritingTip response: I understand your rationale. According to the dictionary, both phrases – dislike and do not like — have the same meaning. However, on an emotional level, any sentence containing the word not tends to come across as both more formal and harsher.

Therefore, if I wanted to create a strong tone, I would use the longer version.

Example
I do not like having to wait for your report. (Underlying thought: I am very annoyed.)
We do not like tardiness. (Underlying thought: We are irritated.)

If I do not want to be as emphatic, I would choose dislike.

Example
I dislike driving in the rain. (Underlying thought: I am not happy about it.)
We dislike tardiness. (Underlying thought: We are not happy about lateness.)

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