Students and faculty take a moment to celebrate National Appreciation Month

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January is the time for new beginnings as everyone rings in the new year and makes new resolutions. However, this opportunity for a fresh start is a chance to show appreciation and take a step back to say “Thank you.”

Every year throughout January, National Thank You Month gives people the opportunity to start the year with grateful hearts and grateful attitudes. For some like Audrey Grone, saying “Thank you” can make all the difference.

“A ‘Thank you’ goes a long way,” said Grone, a senior student in strategic communications at Ohio University. “And you don’t have to be excited about me handing you your coffee, but just a thank you is all I personally need, and it shows me that you appreciate it.” And that’s honestly just the respectful thing to do.

Grone is one of the managers of Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, 38 S. Court St., and knows firsthand how much of an impact saying “thank you” to people in the restaurant industry can have. She can honestly say that 90% of the customers she interacts with are grateful.

She also recognizes that when customers say “Thank you”, it puts employees in a good mood, which then becomes contagious to the rest of the employees and generally has a positive impact on the company’s customers.

“I personally think the energy is contagious,” Grone said. “And if I’m in a super good mood, it’s most likely going to spill over to other people as well. And a lot of people say, ‘Audrey, you’re always in such a good mood.’ And I’m always like, ‘Well, I’m so grateful, and I’m grateful to have a job – I’m grateful to be here.’ And it affects others as well.”

But restaurant industry workers aren’t the only ones with thankless jobs. Steve Mack, director of facilities management at OU, acknowledges the fact that even though facilities workers do so much work to keep the university running, they get very little recognition.

“We are the ones who keep the electricity on; we keep the water in the pipes; we make sure the place is clean and safe to use,” Mack said. “The university is a very big facility – it’s a city in itself. And the facility staff are the staff that keep this city running. People don’t think, ‘Hey, I have electricity, that’s great, because so many people have done their jobs.’ It’s not really, typically, a positive feedback industry.

Mack believes that appreciation is part of human nature – both the need for appreciation and the practice of showing appreciation. Since facilities management positions all operate behind the scenes and are not usually open to the public, it means that much more to him that people recognize his staff for all the hard work they do.

Additionally, Mack pointed out how unglamorous a lot of jobs can be when working in facilities management. Jobs like unclogging toilets, changing light bulbs, or helping with the general beautification of campus are often tedious and difficult to do, Mack said. Although his employees regularly hear how much he appreciates them, the team certainly feels more appreciated when other university staff or students make glowing comments.

University staff and students aren’t the only ones trying to encourage the contagious appreciation – other members of the community are doing their part to spread that positivity. One such community member is Joe Higgins, a Nelsonville resident who started a social media series called “On A Positive Note” where he features a person or group in the community deserving of further appreciation.

“It’s basically about giving people their flowers — creating a platform to highlight someone or something,” Higgins said. “The main thing, though, is just to let other people comment on that person. Because I can say something about them that hopefully brightens their day a bit, but the point is to let other people to comment and let their feelings about that person be known as well.

Higgins started the series, found on Facebook and Twitterto encourage others to take time out of their day to comment on something positive – a behavior he thinks social media urgently needs.

As a journalist, Higgins sees firsthand how social media can create the illusion of interaction without having any real interaction. However, he also realizes that while much of the content may be negative, the interactive illusion doesn’t have to be. That’s why when people keep commenting on their likes on his Facebook series, the topics of the posts can make it look like people are interacting with them positively.

Along the same lines, Higgins thinks bad news is what dominates the news cycle, so spreading happiness in a media format can be a nice change of pace.

“The ultimate goal would be for everyone to do something like this on their own to find their own way to spread positivity on social media,” Higgins said. “It’s easy for people to accumulate or add to negativity, but it takes effort to be kind or just be positive. It’s really just a positive note that would literally make people think twice before leaning into the negative side, it’s so easy, and instead of making an effort to be positive towards someone other in their life.

Grone, Mack and Higgins encourage all people to revisit the lessons taught from a young age: respect and kindness. All three know that ultimately, showing appreciation is just a form of respect and kindness, and the simple act of saying “Thank you” can have a significant impact on individual employees and on the corporate culture as a whole.

“Take a step back and don’t walk through life in a daze,” Mack said. “Make sure you appreciate everything that’s going on around you and just thank people. Just appreciate what people do for you – don’t take it for granted.

@rileyr44

rr855317@ohio.edu

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