Publication: Journal of Management (FEB 2013)
Article: Alleviating the burden of emotional labor: The role of social sharing
Authors: McCance, A. S., Nye, C. D., Wang, L., Jones, K. S., & Chiu, C.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin
If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know that some customers can be incredibly frustrating. You get angry, your blood pressure rises, you try really hard to hold your tongue, and then you complain to your coworkers later. And you feel better.
It turns out that venting to your coworkers really does make a difference. In a recent lab study, Silke McCance and her colleagues subjected participants to both neutral and difficult “customers.” Not surprisingly, participants who had to deal with a difficult customer were more likely to be angry and use surface acting (in other words, they hid their true feelings).
Social sharing is just what it sounds like – sharing an experience with others. Three different types of social sharing assessed in this study were the sharing of feelings, facts, and positive experiences. The authors found that all three types of social sharing were beneficial in reducing anger caused by difficult customers. Although anger decreased over time for all participants, those who were able to share their experiences with others showed an even greater decrease in anger.
The results from this study have pretty big implications if you work in the service industry. A lot of companies discourage employees from venting about negative situations with customers, but this study suggests that social sharing is very helpful in dealing with these types of situations. Allow your employees break time to talk about their negative encounters with customers; you’ll be doing your employees, and your company, a favor.
McCance, A. S., Nye, C. D., Wang, L., Jones, K. S., & Chiu, C. (2013). Alleviating the burden of emotional labor: The role of social sharing. Journal of Management, 39, 392-415. doi: 10.1177/0149206310383909
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management