An abrasive is an adjective that means – showing little concern for the feelings of others. We might also know this as harsh, unfeeling, unsympathetic, or inconsiderate. Abrasiveness is not too uncommon among people and can be easily observed in a certain capacity in many people we come across in our day-to-day life. A common example would be when you see someone speeding on the road just for the thrill of it, disregarding any possibility of causing an accident or hurting someone. An abrasive person lives a little too much inside their own head. Their needs being their priority. Consequences are damned. Living like this doesn’t fare well in the long run, either for those around an abrasive person or the person himself. Such personality can be metaphorically correlated to a fireball that burns too bright and burns too fast only to fizzle out. Leaving nothing but ashes in its wake. Not to keep the argument one-sided – being like this is in no way their fault. Such personality, like any other, is just the product of their environment and experiences.
People with abrasiveness as a part of their personality rank low on agreeableness as they are highly disagreeable. They want things done their own way or not at all. This might lead to unnecessary conflicts, which could be avoided with little understanding and patience. But abrasive people don’t live a life of compromise. They have an ‘all or nothing mentality. When in negotiations, they have no intention of reaching a win-win situation. As long as they win, they don’t consider what happens with the other side. As a consequence, they don’t come across as likable and cause resentment among those who interact with them. Be it in a personal space or a professional one. Abrasive people tend to offend and irritate those around them.
Let’s take Steve Jobs, for example. He is known by all for creating the technological and creative revolution that is known as Apple. However, his reputation of being abrasive, harsh, cold, and cruel is still as alive as his work. He caused resentment among his co-workers, friends, and even his family. Sure, they loved him, but remembering him must leave them with a bittersweet taste in their mouths. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs was a successful entrepreneur and a creative genius. Not because he was abrasive, but despite it.
Now, what about all those people who do not have the work ethic and creative genius of Steve Jobs. All they have is a rough personality and the conflict it brings.
It might be argued that an inconsiderate personality is the result of an inflated ego. If this is6 true, even if such a person realizes he is inconsiderate, he might still struggle to continue in his ways just because his ego is attached to it. When a person acts to satisfy his ego, everything else takes a back seat in life. Working to satisfy their ego, they expect perfection from themselves and those around them, often at the cost of progress. Cooperating with others is nowhere nearly as important for them as satisfying their own needs and fulfilling their personal objectives and agendas. These people tend to create an unhealthy environment around them where people feel uneasy and need to be on their toes and never fully relax. An atmosphere of paranoia is always present.
Unsympathetic people often see other people as a means to achieve their ends. They can never form fulfilling relationships with others because other people are just a means to satisfy their goals. This is a highly narcissistic tendency where a person keeps themselves at the top and believes the world should bow at their feet. They need to feel special. If they don’t feel good, they tend to make other people feel miserable as a consequence.
On the flipside – abrasive people tend to be courageous and often speak their minds, regardless of the potential consequences. They stand up for what they believe is right, and with little effort and training, they can become good leaders. One requires a lot of patience to deal with such people. We must understand that such behavior might stem from a difficult childhood where the person grew desensitized to their surroundings and grew selfish and rough. One might try to point this out to them after gaining their trust without coming off as offensive or critical.
Given below are certain measures that can be adapted to counter the effects of abrasive personalities and ensure that not only the symptoms of this issue are treated. But a long-term solution can be achieved by working towards building a society where people are not only good on their resumes and CVs.
The Role of Parenting
Abrasiveness in a person can be caused due to bad parenting. If a person had a particularly harsh and strict parent, it might cause them to grow up with a bad example. They tend to overcome their shortcomings by being harsh around other people. Making other people feel small in front of them inflates their ego. Parenting is a difficult job. It is the hardest job in the world, bar none. The entire human race depends on the outcome of this job. If you raise a responsible, ethical, intelligent, and smart human being. It will inevitably raise the quality of life of all those around him.
A well brought up human being knows how to operate effectively in the world and has the ability to course correct in case it’s going in the wrong direction. As I’ve heard, developmental psychology is the study of the development of a kid’s brain. Every person is biologically capable of bringing a new life to this world. The question is, should they? If done poorly, parenting leaves children with almost permanent personality change, mostly for the bad. A person with an unhealthy psychological profile will do whatever they can to ensure his own survival. Being courteous and accommodating of others will be the least of their concerns.
The Role of Society
The society we live in today is very competitive. All people want out of you are results. Good human values and ethics have taken a back seat in a society that prioritizes and praises achievement. It doesn’t matter much how you achieve great things, just that you achieve them. In this race for status, minimal emphasis is laid on how a person conducts themself. People with abrasive personality traits generally are good at achieving results for themselves, whatever the cost may be. This leads to unhealthy work environments. Society’s role in this should be to emphasize the holistic development of an individual. A good personality should count for just as much as good material achievements. The people who chase social status in life will have to work to develop good ethical values in themselves just as much as they work towards getting successful in their careers.
The Role of Teachers
Teachers are the titans on whose shoulders a society stands. Teachers make or break a society. The role of educators in a society should be to pass on the knowledge of those who created and advanced the society before the current generation. A teacher should work on teaching their subject material and work on making their student’s good human beings. Any abrasive traits in students should be identified in the early stages, and work should be done on helping the child develop a healthy character. Recently, the education system has introduced value education and life skills in the school curriculum, which is a step in the right direction. It may seem insignificant at first glance but making the children and teachers aware of certain values is a good step towards value education and character development. If long-term mental health also becomes a part of the education system. A lot of people could be saved from the troubles caused by abrasive personality traits.
What do therapists do?
Therapists are licensed mental health specialists who help people develop a better understanding of themselves and deal with the challenges that life throws at them. These challenges may be external, like one’s job, spouse, co-workers, or internal, like unhealthy behavior patterns or past traumas. In this day and age, therapists are essential for those who want to function well in life and overcome challenges with minimum damage to their mental health. A therapist might help you identify if you have abrasive personality traits that might prevent you from attaining happiness and success in the long run. If you know someone who has abrasive personality traits, you might want to recommend a therapist to them, but keep in mind not to put it in a way that might put them on a defensive stance.
How to identify an abrasive person?
Given below are a few signs that you can notice to identify an abrasive person:
- Abrasive people tend to be very commanding to those around them it might initially seem like confidence to people witnessing such a person for the first time. These people show very little patience for people who are not very good at complying with them.
- Abrasive people are confrontational in nature and are very clear about their needs. Regardless of whether it is appropriate or not to say and whether they might offend someone.
- Conversations with abrasive people tend to make many people uneasy and uncomfortable. It is okay to be opinionated, but not at the expense of others.
- Sometimes, people with abrasive personality traits are coming from a place of insecurity in their minds and the only way to bring themselves up is to joke at the expense of others or put other people down.
- Empathy is not their strong suit. People who are abrasive do not easily identify what other people are feeling. This prevents them from connecting with others on a deeper level.
- Abrasive people tend to have a binary outlook towards life.
- ‘If you’re not with me, you’re against me.’
- ‘You either win, or you lose. There is no participation trophy.’
Life isn’t black and white. Abrasive people would do well to understand a little nuance. And give other people and themselves some room to breathe.
- Patience is a virtue that is not associated with people who demonstrate abrasive personality traits. A person who goes out to play cricket with his friends, for example, impatiently wants his turn to play. He is not a team player and wants to do everything himself. Because he believes that others are not as good as him and he is the only one who can win the match at any cost. Loss is unforgivable.
- Abrasive people are the ones who are not interested in what the other person is saying as long as they get their turn at speaking. They don’t listen, they wait for their turn to talk.
How to make sure you don’t have any such traits?
To ensure that you’re not an abrasive person, the first step is to become aware of the instances where you demonstrated some unwarranted abrasive behavior. Being aware of the problem is half the solution. The next logical step would be to analyze your shortcomings. Self-reflection always helps in identifying and correcting unwanted behavior and traits. Journaling your thoughts and behaviors would provide you with the necessary data to form patterns about your behavior. Once you become aware of your behavior patterns, it would be easier to notice them the next time they surface. After you start noticing certain behaviors that you want to change in real-time, choosing a different reaction would be easier.
An abrasive personality shouldn’t be seen as something evil. It is a character trait like many others and, at times, unfavorable and unpleasant. If you have identified someone as abrasive, the best way to deal with them is to be patient in your interactions with them. If you have identified yourself as an abrasive person, the best way to overcome this would be to analyze your behavior patterns and actively correct them through self-analysis and introspection.