University of Nottingham Malaysia
Centre for English Language and Foundation Education

Article #4: Mr Boon and Newbie


Some months ago, I encountered a group project with a lengthy peer review by one of its group members. The individual had written negative reviews for every other member of the group. Details were given, ranging from a peer being too quiet to one producing substandard work. I could only imagine while reading the review, how irate that individual must have been. My imagination ran wild for a second (I blame reading about leech jars) and I couldn’t help but wondered if a 19th century physician would have prescribed bloodletting to prevent the onset of seizures.

That peer review reminded me of a story a boss at the previous workplace often repeated to us. It was a story between Mr. Boon and Newbie. Old Mr. Boon was a perfectionist. He was meticulous, smart, and a no-nonsense person. It was not easy to please Mr. Boon. Newbie was young, hardworking, and NOT a perfectionist. A fortnight after Newbie’s arrival at the workplace, Mr. Boon was so irritated, he was boiling mad. Newbie was pushing all his buttons but what made it worse was that, Newbie was oblivious to them all. While Mr. Boon was mulling over his frustrations with Newbie, his friend Mr. Munn remarked, “When you are mad, you lose control. When you lose control, it means YOU LOST”. This took Mr. Boon by surprise. It dawned on him that Newbie did not appear to have a problem. It was him who had a problem instead. Newbie was a carefree, happy thorn in his flesh. 

The meticulous, smart, no-nonsense Mr. Boon was not going to let Newbie get the better of him! He thought hard and came up with a plan:

  • First - He had to know his own strengths and weaknesses. There was a cause and effect element here. If he knew himself better, he could better predict his own behaviour and other’s reaction.
  • Second - He had to know Newbie’s strengths and weaknesses. If he knew Newbie better, he could better predict Newbie’s behaviour and his own reaction to them. 
  • Third – If Newbie is to stay, he too had to work. Newbie had to know himself and Mr. Boon better (so he could be less of an irritant to Mr. Boon). 

To cut a long story short, both Mr. Boon and Newbie ended up embarking on a journey of self-discovery, self-control, and a happy coexistence with each other. 

The purpose my late boss repeated this story so often (at least to me), was to remind that we can find part of a Mr. Boon and a Newbie in each of us. It is a fact that we will not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor is everyone our cup of tea. However, we are all still tea, just different types. So, let us embark together on a journey to know ourselves better to know others. 

Contributed by
Jeanette Lim

Centre for English Language and Foundation Education

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8000
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8012

Make an enquiry