By Maggie Caraway
For the Opelika
Dr. Danny Butler, assistant dean for Harbert Global Programs Department of Marketing at Auburn University, presented a webinar on June 15 titled “Are You OK?” The message he delivered centered around what this question really means to us, as well as, “strategic thinking to get you through the day at work and at home.” Butler provided an interactive workshop to give viewers ideas and practices to implement in order to simply get them through the day — a seemingly simple task that has its hidden challenges.
Butler’s background in marketing influenced the message he delivered in his workshop.
“The study of how consumers make choices is based on solid psychological principles,” he said. “These same principles impact the choices we make, consciously and subconsciously, that manifest themselves in our overall health. Research suggests that a healthy mind and body lead to more contentment and better attitudes which, in turn, impact our workplace behaviors.”
Butler began by acknowledging the article the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, wrote for the New York Times. Markle explained her experience with miscarriage and the pain and suffering she weathered. She sparked conversations about mental health — a topic that has been taboo in the past. Butler expressed his gratitude for Meghan “putting it all out there for us,” and opening up the door to conversations about mental health.
Butler proved that the psychological principles consumers use as a basis for their decision-making also impact choices we make in everyday life. These choices are made consciously and subconsciously, ultimately affecting our health.
Butler also emphasized the importance of perception and framing. Perception is the factors that influence our decision-making, “the information we see from the environment.”
Framing is our ability to focus and what we prime our brains to think about, he said. Butler explained that we do not have the power to change some things. However, as individuals, we hold the power to change the perception and the framing of information. This, in return, can change our lives.
“We have the perception on the outside and then we have this thing about the way we frame it and what is framing is,” he said. “You have choices. You can consciously frame your choice. You can make quick decisions automatically because you don’t think about what the choice is. Or, you can take a moment to frame how the day will play out. You can have positive thoughts. Or you can have negative thoughts. But how you view the world? It’s actually a choice.”
Furthermore, Butler emphasized the impact we can have on others by choosing to say “Are you OK?” You can make this choice by not necessarily asking that same question word for word. It can be in the form of “How are you?”; “How are you feeling?”; Or, in Butler’s case, “What is that crap on your lip?”
When Butler was working on his MBA as a graduate student at the University of Central Florida, he discovered what he thought was a wart on his lip. He treated his lip with Compound W wart remover and saw no results. After some time, one of his professors, Dr. Bill McCartney, pulled him aside and asked “What is that crap on your lip?” He said this shocked him because it was the harshest thing he had heard his professor say. McCartney ordered him to go to the health clinic and get his lip checked out. Butler was immediately sent to a dermatologist and found out the devastating news that the “wart” on his lip was actually squamous cell carcinoma. The doctor told Butler that the cancer could have easily moved to his lymph nodes if he had not had it removed, leaving him dead within a year. Butler claimed that he had one of those “Are you OK?” moments when “someone cared enough to hurt my feelings by asking me ‘What is that crap on your lip?’”
The ultimate message that Butler preached is that there are many things in this life that we cannot change. However, there are some things that we can change and our perspective and the choices we make are some of the most important aspects in doing so. Make the choice today to ask someone if they are okay and change your perspective to realize that this question might come in many different forms. Danny Butler’s webinar “Are You Okay? Strategic Thinking to Get You Through the Day at Work and at Home” is available at auburn.edu/opce along with previous webinars.