Smooth Skills: Dealing with Tough Co-workers

Mar 06, 2023

Image of a woman yelling at her workers with a horn.

Abrasive behaviors can come from employee to employer, among co-workers, or from employer to employee; only the latter is difficult to control. Some myths and misconceptions follow this variation of abrasive behavior. This guide was created to help; lighten abrasive behavior, the people involved, dispell myths surrounding the concepts, and how to deal with abrasive behavior in the workplace with the top performers.

What Does it Mean to be Abrasive?

Though dictionaries have a straightforward definition for being abrasive, society has tagged many misconceptions to the word. Some ideologies term abrasiveness as being straight to the point. Another hypothesis terms it as anti-social or a defensive mechanism for a troubled past or mental weakness. However, according to the Collins Dictionary, the standard definition of being abrasive is someone unkind and rude.

Image of boss yelling at his employees.

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Common signs of this behavior include lack (or the appearance of lack) of empathy, being highly opinionated, telling something as it is, being oblivious to people’s discomfort around you, being a workaholic, nitpicking, playing only to win, and being money-driven. People also experience target taunting, throwing threats, name-calling, people degradation & humiliation, public criticism, instilling fear in targets, and the possibility of physical attacks.

Until it gets physical, many tend to believe that abrasive behavior can be tolerated and is bound to happen. However, toleration of a negative personality does more harm than good. It can lead to decreased productivity from the target or victim, increased absence of mind and self, feelings of betrayal, increased apathy, and in worse cases, could lead to suicidal attempts (sometimes successful). For these reasons and more, abrasive behavior must be stopped.

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Blog Written by:Yvette Durazo

Yvette is an international leader and expert in the field of alternative dispute resolution/conflict resolution with expertise in the Human Resources, family businesses, corporate and non-profit organizational disputes areas. Yvette is an Adjunct Professor for the University of California, Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension for the Human Resource Management Certification Program. There she teaches online and in-person courses in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Human Resource Management Courses, Communication & Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Ethics, Neutrality, Conciliation, and Mediation. She is also a former Adjunct Professor for the National University and the School General Council of the Judiciary in the State of Guanajuato, Mexico.