What are the differences between an abrasive boss and an abusive one?
The abrasive boss can be hard to work for and make work life unpleasant.
The abusive boss can be intentionally cruel and make work life intolerable.
I associate the abrasive boss more with workplace incivility. Oftentimes this person just doesn’t know how to play well with others in the sandbox.
I associate the abusive boss more with workplace bullying and mobbing. This individual knows how to play well with others, but in some (perhaps many) instances identifies certain people for targeted mistreatment.
There are behavioral characteristics that distinguish the abrasive boss from the abusive one. One that I’ve become more aware of over the years is that the abusive boss not only sticks the knife in, so to speak, but also often gives it an extra twist. It could be a few well-chosen words in a conversation or an e-mail, designed to push someone’s buttons in an unsettling way. Or maybe it’s a very brief, totally untrue, but devastatingly effective putdown that blackballs a job candidate behind their back.
Just one little twist of the verbal knife can do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, I’m sure that varieties of this twist abound.