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Part 4 of Unmasking bullying: A self guide to reclaim power

Words by Radhika Iyer.

Part 4: The key to self-care

In the final part of this series, we consider the key to focusing on ourselves and our wellbeing.

The following are general tips and strategies I would like to share:

  • Validate the self. Maintain self-respect, self-worth, self-confidence and self-love. Don’t buy into the bullies’ narrative of who you are. Although most of us find it easier to berate ourselves, validate yourself by repeating positive statements about who you are. Nobody knows you better than yourself.

  • Surround yourself with people whom you trust, who validate you, and when they do offer criticism, you know it is of the constructive type.

  • Never ever show your emotions, when facing a bully—not even anger. Bullies use your emotions against you. Bullies don’t seem to like logic, for some reason. As an example: A client of mine, Z, who held a senior position in a large company, had a boss who was a bully. In Z’s annual performance appraisal, the boss had given Z a poor rating. Z challenged the review and as part of the process, attended a meeting. During the course of the discussion, the boss made the comment that Z was not very good at their work and was the worst [insert job title]. Z responded with a polite smile without showing any other reaction. In not being able to get a reaction, the boss had simply lost their power over Z. As for the outcome of the appraisal? Let’s just say that the boss had to amend three quarters of their original comments.

  • Keep a journal. My advice to clients is to keep a journal and journal, journal, journal. Keep a record of day, date, time, where and when. Even if it is just two lines, make sure those two lines clearly contain all the information. This is even more important when you know who the bully/bullies is/are and you are interacting with them every single day. Even if you are not experiencing workplace bullying per se, it is worthwhile keeping a journal as a record. Sometimes, just writing a journal can provide clarity and insight into the tactics of the bullies and what it is they may be using against us. Bullies can only have power if we give it to them, so take back your power.

  • There is no shame if we are not able to cope with the bullying. If you don’t feel comfortable lodging a formal complaint or going through a formal process, make sure you see a professional doctor or counsellor to get the support you need. Be your number one fan when it comes to taking care of your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

  • Most places have a policy for resolving grievance. Grievance process is there to be utilised. Make use of it. If need be, take a friend or a person whom you trust, as support. You are not alone, you don’t have to do this alone.

The above are general tips and strategies. We understand that the impact of bullying can vary from person to person; and that everyone has their own unique experience and perspective of it. But if these tips and strategies can be a starting point for others to share their own coping mechanisms, then people can find what works best for them.

In conclusion, I leave these important thoughts for you to consider. Bullies do not have power. They can only have power over us if we hand them our power. We can reclaim our power anytime we want. We are not alone and we don’t have to do this alone.


Radhika Iyer is a freelancer who has worked extensively in the community development and community services sector. She developed a professional interest in conflict resolution and management as a result of working with diverse groups with competing interests. Radhika’s first forays into the area of workplace bullying happened by accident. In the process of helping clients to resolve what seemed to be legitimate workplace issues, she instead discovered that in a number of cases, the clients were in fact experiencing forms of bullying. Having since observed the impact of bullying, Radhika supports a strong move to educate and eradicate the culture of bullying. She believes that sustainable change requires a whole-of, holistic approach. Her mission is to empower people to take ownership and feel confident to address conflict and the issue of bullying.

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