The Pitfalls Of An Abrasive Personality: Causes And Consequences

There are many types of personalities we interact with in society, and being humans, we co-live and tolerate each other. But an abrasive personality is the type you don’t want to have anything to do with.

As an introverted person who does not like loudness and likes to maintain my personal boundaries, I recognize abrasive people really quickly and shake them off, then keep them at arm’s length.

They will mess your emotional space up really well and blame you for it while demanding an apology. If you are not mentally strong, you will doubt your own sanity.

In this article, we will discuss in detail, the abrasive personality – its prevalence, characteristics, factors that enhance it, and how to cope with them.

What is an abrasive personality?

Behaviour of an abrasive personality and how they make others feel

Abrasive personality is a term used to describe someone who displays aggressive behavior, which makes it hard for others to interact with them.

Such people are known for their harshness, rudeness, and insensitivity towards others, which can lead to regular conflicts and misunderstandings between them and those around them.

This type of behaviour can be exhibited in various settings, including the workplace, school, and social interactions, and can be a result of different factors as we are going to see.

Having this personality can be detrimental to one’s personal and professional relationships, as it can lead to isolation, negative criticism, and reduced productivity.

However, with therapy, counseling, and a willingness to change, one can work on improving their personality and learn better ways to interact with others.

Also Read: Life Starts Where Your Comfort Zone Ends

Prevalence of abrasiveness in modern society

In modern society, abrasiveness is prevalent in various forms.

The rise of social media has given people a platform to express their opinions, which often leads to aggressive behavior toward others.

Cyberbullying, trolling, and online harassment are examples of abrasiveness in the virtual world.

Related: 14 Negative Traits Of Introverts

Another example of abrasiveness is in politics, where politicians frequently engage in aggressive attacks and insults toward their opponents.

This often leads to a toxic atmosphere, where people feel hostile towards each other because of their political beliefs.

In the workplace, abrasiveness can manifest in the form of bullying, micromanagement, and aggression.

This can result in a negative work environment that affects the mental and emotional well-being of employees.

Characteristics of abrasive personalities

A man with abrasive personality talking disrespectfully to a lady

There are traits commonly associated with abrasive people. As I mentioned in the second paragraph of this post, I spot them from a distance and create my boundary immediately.

I will break down the characteristics of the abrasive personality into two – the negative traits they display and the identifiable behaviours in different situations like the workplace and in relationships.

Also Read: How To Make Friends As An Introvert

Negative traits of the abrasive personality

  • Insensitivity: An abrasive person is often insensitive to others’ emotions, feelings, and perspectives.
  • Rudeness: Abrasive people have a tendency to be rude and disrespectful in their communication style.
  • Arrogance: They may have a sense of superiority over others, which can come across as egotistical and self-centered.
  • Hostility: Abrasive individuals often exhibit hostility and anger, which can be off-putting to others.
  • Intimidation: They may attempt to intimidate others through their tone of voice, body language, or verbal aggression.

Also Read: How do I know if I am An introvert?

  • Lack of empathy: They often lack empathy and are unable to connect emotionally with others.
  • Bluntness: These individuals tend to be direct and blunt in their communication, which can be interpreted as harsh or critical.
  • Impatience: They may display impatience and expect others to keep up with their fast-paced approach.
  • Negativity: An abrasive individual may have a negative outlook on life, often focusing on problems rather than solutions.
  • Inflexibility: Abrasive personalities may struggle with flexibility and compromise, preferring to impose their will on others.

Also Read: Why You Cringe When Others Embarrass Themselves

Behaviours exhibited by abrasive personalities

In the Workplace:

  • Critical: They often criticize and find fault with others, rarely offer solutions, or listen to feedback.
  • Blaming: They are quick to blame others for their own mistakes or failures.
  • Manipulation: They use power, authority, status, or other means to manipulate others.
  • Entitlement: They often think they are entitled to special privileges, treatment, or rewards.
  • Sabotage: They may sabotage the work of others, gossip, or spread rumors to undermine colleagues or team members.
  • Lack of accountability: They rarely take responsibility for their actions or decisions, often deflecting blame to others or external factors.

In Relationships:

  • Aggressiveness: Abrasive individuals can be aggressive in their communication, whether it be verbal or nonverbal. They may often lash out at others, causing hurt, confusion, and fear.
  • Domineering: They may use their position, authority, and physicality to control and manipulate others to get their way.
  • Insensitivity: Abrasive individuals can be insensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions. They can often come across as dismissive, uncaring, or uninterested in what others have to say.
  • Blunt criticism: They may be highly critical in their approach, often disregarding any positive aspects of the situation and unduly fixating on what they see as wrong.
  • Difficulty with empathy: Abrasive individuals may struggle to place themselves in other people’s shoes, and, as such, may lack consideration for how their words or actions may impact those around them.
  • Offensive humour: They may use offensive language, tell offensive jokes, or make offensive comments, which can make people feel uncomfortable or offended.
  • Quick to anger: Abrasive individuals may react to personal situations with anger that is disproportionate to the circumstances, leading to a heated argument or conflict.

Recommended: Why You Should Trust Your Instincts In Relationships

Factors that contribute to the development of abrasive personalities

A woman displaying abrasive behaviours towards another woman

Many factors contribute to people developing abrasive personalities and can be divided into childhood experiences and upbringing, mental illness, and external environmental factors.

1. Childhood experiences and upbringing

Childhood experiences such as neglect, abuse, trauma, or inconsistent parental care can have a significant impact on a person’s personality development.

Such experiences can lead a person to develop abrasive personality traits, such as arrogance, aggression, impulsiveness, and lack of empathy.

Several factors that could cause this problem due to childhood experiences are:

  • Overindulging or neglectful parents: Children who grow up in a home where the parents focus primarily on themselves may exhibit the traits in their adult years. Parents who are not very present in their children’s lives or who indulge them excessively might make children feel more entitled to get what they want when they want it.
  • Witnessing domestic violence or abuse: Growing up in a home where there is psychological, physical, or sexual abuse can significantly impact a child’s personality development. Children may become more aggressive or less empathetic as they grow older.
  • Experiencing bullying or harassment: When children are bullied or harassed by peers, they may develop abrasive personalities as a coping mechanism to protect themselves. Children may become rough, and insensitive and may have trust issues.
  • Harsh parenting: Parents who use punishment as their go-to method for discipline may cause children to develop aggressive behavior as it makes them feel that violence is normal and acceptable.

Related: Crafting Your Identity

2. Mental illnesses and disorders

Mental illnesses and disorders can affect an individual’s behaviour and personality in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders: Individuals with anxiety disorders may display abrasive behaviour due to constant worry and fear, which causes them to be defensive and quick to anger.
  • Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder can experience extreme mood swings, from mania to depression, resulting in impulsive and unpredictable behaviour.
  • Borderline personality disorder: This disorder is characterized by impulsivity, instability, and a history of unstable relationships, resulting in abrasive or aggressive behaviour.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: People with this disorder can display abrasive behaviour due to their inflated sense of self-importance, entitlement, and lack of empathy for others.
  • Antisocial personality disorder: People with this disorder are known for their lack of remorse, empathy, and disregard for the rights of others, often resulting in abrasive or aggressive behaviour.

3. External environmental factors

  • Role models: Growing up around people who exhibit abrasive behaviour, such as parents, teachers, or peers, can normalize the behaviour and influence a person’s own behaviour in the future.
  • Workplace culture: Some work environments, such as highly stressful or competitive ones, may encourage abrasive behaviour as a way to cope with pressure, establish dominance, or impress superiors.
  • Social norms: In some cultures or contexts, being direct, confrontational, or assertive is valued over being polite, accommodating, or deferential. If a person grew up in a culture that emphasizes assertiveness or in a subculture that prizes “toughness,” they may adopt an abrasive personality as a way to fit in or succeed.
  • Personal insecurities: Some people may become abrasive as a way to mask their own insecurities, fears, or vulnerabilities. By projecting a tough, intimidating persona, they may feel more in control or protected from criticism or rejection. In this case, the external factor may be the person’s own internal struggles, rather than a specific environmental factor.

Effects of abrasive personalities on others

An abrasive man furious towards a woman

People who are abrasive can have negative effects on people around them. No one has anything good to say about abrasive personalities.

Yes, they might have some positive traits, but their negatives overshadow all of that. Here are the effects this personality has on others:

1. Negative impact on personal relationships and communication

Abrassiveness can ruin relationships, and communication and leave an individual in emotional distress.

It is crucial for an individual to identify these behaviors and seek help to improve their communication and interpersonal skills.

Related: The Role Of Personality In Career Choices

2. Decreased job satisfaction and productivity in the workplace

This type of personality can have significant negative effects on the workplace, leading to decreased job satisfaction and productivity. Here is how:

Firstly, an abrasive personality can create a hostile work environment. Employees who feel uncomfortable or threatened in the workplace will be less motivated to do their best work, resulting in decreased productivity.

Additionally, this type of behaviour can lead to high turnover rates, increasing the cost of hiring and training new employees.

Secondly, an abrasive person can cause stress and emotional distress to their coworkers. A negative work environment can result in increased stress levels, which can lead to a decrease in mental health and well-being.

Furthermore, an abrasive personality can damage relationships with clients and customers. A person who is argumentative, dismissive, or condescending can drive away potential customers and damage the reputation of the company.

Recommended: Primal Instincts: Your Natural Informant And How to Sharpen It

3. Psychological effects on individuals who interact with abrasive personalities

Individuals who regularly interact with abrasive personalities may experience a negative impact on their mental and physical health, personal self-worth, and social relationships.

It is essential to identify and manage these negative behaviours to avoid significant long-term issues.

Interacting with abrasive personalities can cause individuals to experience negative emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety, and distress. This may lead to a negative impact on their mental well-being and self-esteem.

Abrasive behaviours can damage an individual’s social relationships, such as colleagues, friends, and family members. It may also bring about feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Coping strategies for dealing with abrasive personalities

A man coping with and abrasive woman

Abrasive people can be a pain in the neck and difficult for people who are not emotionally strong.

From my experience as a coach to young budding people, here are some of the coping strategies that may be helpful for dealing with abrasive personalities:

  • Recognize their behavior: The first step in dealing with an abrasive personality is to recognize their behavior for what it is. This can help you avoid taking their actions personally.
  • Stay calm and composed: Try to remain calm and composed when dealing with an abrasive person. Do not let their behavior affect you.
  • Set boundaries: Be clear about your boundaries and do not tolerate behavior that is unacceptable to you. Make it clear that you will not tolerate verbal abuse, threats, or other forms of negative behavior.
  • Avoid confrontation: Avoid confronting an abrasive person head-on, as this may only escalate the situation. Instead, try to de-escalate the situation by calmly addressing their concerns or redirecting the conversation.
  • Seek support: Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you cope with the stress of dealing with an abrasive personality.
  • Take care of yourself: Take care of yourself by engaging in self-care activities like exercise, meditation, or hobbies. This can help you cope with stress and maintain a positive outlook.


Having an abrasive personality can be detrimental to one’s personal and professional relationships, as it can lead to isolation, negative criticism, and reduced productivity.

The prevalence of abrasiveness in modern society is a significant problem that can lead to social, political, and workplace conflict.

It is important to promote respect, kindness, and empathy towards others, both online and offline, to counteract this negative behavior.

Parents and caregivers play significant roles in a child’s development, and positive nurturing can shape an individual’s future positively.

However, with therapy, counseling, and a willingness to change, one can work on improving their personality and learn better ways to interact with others.

Frequently asked questions

What is an abrasive personality?

It is characterized by behavior that is harsh, rude, critical, and often offensive to others. People with this problem may be confrontational, argumentative, and unwilling to compromise.

What causes an abrasive personality?

There is no one specific cause of this problem, as it can stem from a variety of factors such as personality traits, past experiences, and mental health conditions.

Can an abrasive personality be changed?

Yes, with self-awareness, willingness to change, and professional help if needed, an abrasive individual can be changed. However, it may require a lot of effort and time, as changing deep-rooted behavior patterns can be challenging.

How can someone deal with an abrasive personality?

It is important to establish boundaries and communicate clearly with someone who has this problem. You can also try to empathize with them and understand why they behave the way they do. However, if the behavior becomes too difficult to manage, it may be necessary to limit or end the relationship.

How can someone with an abrasive personality improve their behavior?

Self-reflection, seeking feedback from others, and seeking professional help can all be helpful in improving an abrasive individual. It is important to identify the root causes of the behaviour and work on developing more positive communication and interpersonal skills.


  1. Dealing With Abrasive People
  2. 7 Signs Someone Is Coming Off As Abrasive Without Realizing It
  3. Abrasive Personality Profile: Meaning, Definition, Traits and Underlying Causes
  4. How Do You Coach and Change the Abrasive Personality?
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A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.

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