How a Bully Got His Comeuppance

A strategy for dealing with intimidating people

Malky McEwan
5 min readOct 20, 2020


On the first impression, Frank was a nice guy.

He extended his hand the moment he walked in my door, “How the devil are you?” he said, all bright and cheery.

Frank spoke and acted like he was my new best friend.

I’d asked for a move back to street duties — a year of pandering to our self-aggrandising chief constable had been enough. I’d got my wish and Frank was taking over my job working directly for the chief. It was a political role. Allegedly, its remit was to make our streets safer — in reality, it was to make our chief look good.

I handed the reins over to Frank.

Within a day, he was badmouthing me. It doesn’t matter if you are old and wise, young and reckless, or as thick-skinned as a crocodile — people are tender inside. We all feel.

It offended me. He’d insulted me, and I wasn’t there to defend myself. I didn’t get the opportunity to challenge him. I worried about what the people who listened to him might think of me. Badmouthing is bullying.

As a police officer, you learn to deal with insults. If you don’t have the emotional intelligence to deal with the constant verbal abuse, it’s probably not the job for you. The people we deal with can be brutal — but when badmouthed by a colleague, it grates your reserves of tolerance.

It preyed on my mind all day; I sought ways to get back at him.

Lying awake that night, I had a flash of insight.

I’d learned Frank was badmouthing me because friends told me. These friends didn’t believe Frank — they wouldn't have alerted me otherwise. They were on my side; friends who wanted me to be wary of a guy they didn’t respect.

I reframed my anger and irritation. I didn’t need to do a damn thing about Frank and his badmouthing. When we hear someone talk ill of people behind their backs, we become cautious of them; it breeds our distrust.

The opposite is also true.

“One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present. In…



Malky McEwan

Thinker. At least, I think I am. If you have a curious mind, join here: