According to HowToDealWithBullies.com (I wonder what that website could possibly be about?):
The first action you can take to stop this type of bullying is to inform the manager of your feelings. If you belong to a union, or have an employee representative available, you may want to take them with you. Practice what you will say with a family member or trusted friend first to be sure you are staying professional. When dealing with an abusive boss, you should follow the proper channels as much as possible.
According to CIO.com (which also, interestingly, reports that bullies are 50% male and 50% female, but that 84% of victims are women):
Don’t try and enlist the help of your HR department. HR can be the chilliest place any employee can visit, and also one of the most dangerous. HR’s allegiance is to the employer—and its goal is protecting the employer from legal claims. Approach rarely, with caution, and only when fully prepared.
And, as Dawn reported, different bullies respond to different things. Some HR departments are helpful and some are staffed by evil minions. Sometimes, confrontation stops bullying, and sometimes it makes it worse. I’m sure it also makes a difference whether the bullying is obvious to everyone, whether others are also being bullied, and whether the bully is a boss or a peer.
In fact, Kidshealth.org gives two very different motivations that your bully may have:
Although most bullies think they’re hot stuff and have the right to push people around, others are actually insecure. They put other people down to make themselves feel more interesting or powerful. And some bullies act the way they do because they’ve been hurt by bullies in the past — maybe even a bullying figure in their own family, like a parent or other adult.
Some bullies actually have personality disorders that don’t allow them to understand normal social emotions like guilt, empathy, compassion, or remorse. These people need help from a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Oh, good! Maybe your bully is just insecure! And a victim of another bully, thus creating a daisy-chain of bullies that you may be tempted to perpetuate when someone even more vulnerable came along! (Dear first-grade classmate Jack: I’m sorry for making fun of your dozens and dozens of warts. I was also miserable! I hope you are rich and handsome now.)
But maybe your bully is actually a serial killer.
So, what can we say about bullying overall, other than that there’s no easy answer? (Blah.)
Here’s my thought: Where does bullying happen?
At school, of course. At work. In jail.
That is, bullying on a continued basis requires a captive audience.