I’ve had a few bullies for bosses, and a few co-workers (peers and superiors by title). It’s like a bad marriage. Depending on your organization culture, you can end it by getting a new job or a transfer (easier in the private sector), or you learn how to cope (public sector and government).
There is no real solution to bullies, but there a few things to try: show equanimity and communicate the message, “You can’t get under my skin,” show executive presence and communicate the message, “Don’t mess with me,” and finally, develop your bases of power to communicate the message, “Be careful.” Work on your compassion with such people. The relationship will not last for ever, but you will come out spiritually stronger.
My favorite one is to publicly send the signal, “I’d like to help you be successful.” It does not always work, but it is good insurance when the conflict escalates. You’ll have the court of public opinion on your side.
It helps to be diplomatic, tactful, and flexible. Hone your conflict management skills. Work on overcoming your fears and anxiety, and a bully will go from being a “threat” to an “annoyance.” If your ideas are better, your co-workers will see the truth for themselves. If the bully has power of life and death over you, cut your losses, and start over elsewhere. You can always choose to escalate conflict, but it had better be worth it.
At a policy level, institute anti-harassment training to prevent bullying. Establish HR consequences for egregious behavior.
Above all, make a promise to yourself that you won’t put up with it. The specific solution will reveal itself.