What is an abrasive personality?

As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

In this article we will discuss what an abrasive personality is.

We will also briefly discuss the characteristics of an abrasive personality and what one can do to help an abrasive personality change. 

What is an abrasive personality?

An individual with an abrasive personality is more or less a porcupine who has very sharp edges, with pins and needles, but is actually quite vulnerable. 

Individuals with this personality tend to be dominating, authoritative, and someone who is a go-getter at all costs. Oftentimes they are also perfectionists and demanding of other people. 

When it comes to this personality type, they are also very intelligent, with a passion to be perfect, to be a champion, and to win at all costs. They tend to be a sole player and do not really know how to work with a team or in a community. 

As workers, they do not know how to work with others and are often leaders without much empathy for the people under them. They are highly demanding and often consider people as incompetenet. 

In unsuitable conditions, they can be verbally abusive to their coworkers and subordinates, might taunt them and call them fools, because of their desire and demand for perfection and completeness in the work.

When it comes to their social relationships, they keep people at a distance and are not individuals who learn from their friends or their partners. Rather they keep people at an arm’s length and instead demand perfection from them as well which can be tiring and exhausting for those around them.

They are not empathetic of their partners and the people who care about them and are not individuals who tend to the needs of other people, they often struggle with their relationships because of insecurities in themselves as well as their partners. 

Very interestingly, individuals with this personality are usually subjected to a lot of insecurities. Like the porcupine, they are often vulnerable creatures under all the layers of hardened superiority and often fear that their low self esteem, and their weaknesses will be seen by other people. 

At their worst, they are indi dvd ausl who are unable to accept their vulnerability, their mistakes, and their limitations which makes them more hard and mean on themselves and other people. 

However, at their best, they are magnificent in the way they work , in the way they achieve, and in the way they lead their lives. They get things done and are often able to get it done perfectly and in the highest quality. 

What are the characteristics of an abrasive personality?

Here are a few key characteristics of an abrasive personality:

  • Abrasive individuals are analytical and in thai sense they are logical and intelligent who are good at analysing the situation and people as well, and they make for good problem solvers. 
  • Abrasive personalities are authoritative and dominating which is often seen in their way of communicating and behaving. Their authoritativeness often comes off as demanding and unsympathetic in the way they want things done. 
  • They are very impatient and want to get things done as soon as possible and alsi they want things to be done their way which they believe is the perfect way. They are perfectionings, and are often result driven.
  • These personalities are not emotionally aware which makes them overly direct and too honest at times since they are unable to “read the room”. They often hurt other people without the intention to do so and they often do not care about hurting others if it gets the work done or if they get their point across. 
  • They lack empathy because of which they tend to be self-absorbed and unable to understand the point of other people or the way they feel. They are not great listers and often tend to be the one doing the talking and are insensitive. 
  • Abrasive personalities are not open minded, they believe that the world is as they see it and are quite defensive towards other worldviews. They often hold their own opinions and tend to defend their perspectives or hold on to their world views too closely. 
  • They are intolerant of failure and incompetence and this could be because of their own intelligence and capacities which makes them highly demanding and expects perfection from other people as well. 
  • They are very ambitious and often go after what they want which makes them excellent at business, at winning, at their own game. Because of their ambition, they tend to do whatever it takes to win and this includes hurting their friends, family, or their team. 
  • People who are abrasive are also very insecure people and most of their abusive behaviours is because they are on the defence of getting hurt, benign judged, and because of their low self-esteem due to which they tend to be overly confident and overly strong as a way to hide their own fears of being imprefert and incapable. 
  • They have a great sense of self- almost narcissistic and because of this they believe that everyone else are mere devices for his own gain and this own pursuit of his goals- they view others as pawns to their overarching goals and pursuits. 
  • They also tend to be very controlling of themselves and other people because of their own sense of internal lack of self esteem which makes them feel small. This leads them to become more controlling, larger than life externally. 

What can one do to change an abrasive personality?

While an abrasive personality does have some strengths in the way they work and lead their lives, it can be difficult for the people around them to work and live with them. 

In fact, an abrasive personality is often demanding, and unempathetic in the way they deal with others and this can become difficult to be around. 

Here are a few things that one can do to help someone with an abrasive personality change:

Figure out their level of awareness

Understand who they are and understand whether they themselves are aware of the personality they have. Developing an understanding of how self-aware they are can help in the process of change. 

For someone who is self-aware, they can become more open to feedback as opposed to someone who is not. 

Widen their awareness

For both someone who is self aware and someone who is not, the best thing one can do is to have an honest conversation around the issue of their behaviour. 

Make sure that when you talk to them, discuss their behaviours and avoid linking their behaviours to their personality- to who they are- since this can be an easier approach for them to accept a few things about themselves when it is externalised.

It is important that you use clear examples, objective feedback to stress your point. Do not ambush them, and do not hold public intervention. Instead make sure it is a one to one conversation.

During this conversation, do not confront them but rather give them an effect and cause explanation in clear, concise ways that allow them to see the consequences of their behjaboors on to other people as well as on to themselves.

Take advantage of their positive assets

Another thing you can do to change the behaviours of an abrasive personality is to reinforce their positives. It is possible that an abrasive individual will have some positive qualities such as their competitiveness and their knowledge. 

Make it a point to use their knowledge to achieve positive results or their competitiveness to get things done. 

For example, in the workplace, hone their competitive nature by giving them more challenges and reinforce their ability to complete tasks. Highlight their ability without comparing it to other people. 

Step into their world view

Absriasive people often view other people as the problem and they also see themsledvs suffering becaus eof other peopel’s incompetencies etc. 

Find a way to empathise with them, and instead of reinforcing their world views, challenge them into taking action so that they can help others resolve their
“Incompetencies” as they see it.

Make sure that this challenge is put across in such a way that they believe that it will only benefit them. 

For example, they might think that their coworker is too slow. Instead of agreeing with them, ask them what they can do to help this “slow” coworker so that their pace does not hinder them.

Make sure that this

Make use of their self interest to change

Abrasive people are usually very self-absorbed and self interested. So as a way to help them change you can understand what it is they really value and direct this change into these values. 

For example, if they are someone who likes to be a leader but lacks the emotional awareness to be an effective leader, help them see why emotional awareness and skills like empathy are necessary. Convince them that it is necessary for their own role as a leader.

In most cases it is possible that they will develop an interest in developing emotionally, not because they think it is necessary for all social interactions, but because they believe that it will help them become a better leader. 

Once they believe that this change is necessary, have them put it into words and explain it to you as to why it is necessary for them- this allows for self awareness and self regulation. 


In this article we discussed what an abrasive personality is.

We also briefly discussed the characteristics of an abrasive personality and what one can do to help an abrasive personality change. 

Is abrasive personality a disorder?

An abrasive personality is not a personality disorder but it could be a behavioural symptom of someone who has a personality disorder for example, in the case of narcissistic personality disorder. 

What is an aloof personality?

Someone who has an aloof personality is usually distant and reserved and emotionally detached from the people around them.

What is an abrasive leader?

An abrasive leader is an individual that has the ability to manage other people but causes distress in others because of their interpersonal tendencies to be demanding, critical, and highly authoritarian. 

How do you deal with an abrasive person?

A few ways you can deal with an abrasive person include:

  • Empathise with them
  • Understand their world view
  • Challenge them based on their self interest
  • Do not confront them
  • Set boundaries
  • Set expectations
  • Cut them off if need be. 


Levinson.H. The Abrasive Personality. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. https://hbr.org/1978/05/the-abrasive-personality

Hicks.R. How Do You Coach and Change the Abrasive Personality? PhysicianLeadership. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022.  https://www.physicianleaders.org/news/how-do-you-coach-change-abrasive-personality

8 Signs Of An Abrasive Personality. A conscious Rethink. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/13851/abrasive-personality/

About Abrasive Personality – Things You Need To know. HowIgottheJob. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. https://howigotjob.com/articles/abrasive-personality/#:~:text=An%20abrasive%20 person%20is%20someone,two%20 types%20of%20abrasive%20 personality.

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.