Mal's Instragram

Search This Blog

Symbolic Interpretation of Story

The Symbolic Interpretation of Story, Chapter 19, page 254.

When I started working at Nordstrom, as a personal shopper, I was very excited about the prospect of excelling in such a large company. The opportunities seemed endless to me, as they told me they “promote from within.” I remember my first day of the two week training for the job. The Human Relations director stood at the front of the room and gave us story after story about the foundation of the company, its successes as a company and its successes for employees within the company. She painted a picture for the new employees in that room with both corporate and personal stories. The corporate stories included things about how the founders' sons all started out of the sales floor, just like any one of us. They all had to work their way up, so therefor we are all on common ground. She explained how the general manager of our store is hands on, always getting her “hands dirty” by cleaning, doing displays, painting and even selling at times. This gave us a sense that she loved her job, and that the values of the company include close-ties, hard-work, community, equality and a go-getter attitude. She also told us that the general manager did not get a college degree, in fact she started working at Nordstrom right after high-school. The message she was trying to send us through her story was very clear. She wanted us to see that we all have a chance at being the general manager one day, if we work hard enough. Her personal stories were about her summer internships with Nordstrom, and how after graduating from UC Davis she was offered a position as Assistant Manager of her department and then eventually manager of HR. With her personal story she wanted to be “seen within the organization” (254) as a smart woman who kept close connections in the company during her college education in order to get promoted after graduating. This was all fine and dandy information, and made Nordstrom sound like the best place on earth to work, but I knew better. I had to get the truth, the reality the real story of how things really work within the organization (254). This is where the Collegial stories came in handy. I knew that if I went down to my department and asked a few of my co-workers about their experiences at Nordstrom, I would find out what it is really like to be an employee in this company. The truth prevailed because after getting both positive and negative stories about the company, my own experience at Nordstrom aligned with those stories more so than anything else I had heard.

Hirokawa interview

Hirokawa Interview

Em Griffin disclosed that many times he has cracked jokes during group meetings, in order to lighten the mood. It was interesting that in Symbolic Convergence Theory this would be considered starting a fantasy chain theme, but he wondered if it counterproductive regarding the Functional Perspective. Hirokawa talked about how this could actually help the group to focus on the pros and cons of the situation and even get them to look at it from a different perspective than their own. Even if Em's intention was nothing more than lightening the mood due to boredom, the function of his action could help the group interaction. Hirokawa explains this as, “one of the great intriguing aspects of group communication. That is, how you intend your message to function may not at all function in a way that you intended. There’s an irony there, but it is a reality” (as cited in Griffin). The most crucial question asked by Griffin was how we know the difference between a good decision and a bad one. Hirokawa notes goodness or badness as a “subjective judgment” (as cited in Griffin). I agree that what might be considered a good decision made by one group, could be considered bad by another group. It is all based on who is going to be affected the most by the outcome of that decision, and who it is in favor of.
I find myself using this technique when making big decisions in my life. It would be very ineffective and potentially harmful to bypass weighing the pros and cons of an outcome. Hirokawa explains this approach as the groups, “ability to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of alternate choices prior to making a decision” (as cited in Griffin). He also claims this to be the most essential of the four steps in Functional Perspective.