Alleviating the Burden of Emotional Labor: The Role of Social Sharing

A. Silke McCance, Christopher D. Nye, Lu Wang, Kisha S. Jones, Chi Yue Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Difficult customer interactions cause service employees to experience negative emotions and to engage in emotional labor. The present laboratory study examined whether social sharing (i.e., talking about an emotionally arousing work event with one's coworkers) can attenuate the residual anger lingering after a taxing service episode. Participants assumed the role of customer service representatives for a fictitious technical support hotline and encountered either neutral or difficult service interactions. After fielding three easy or three difficult calls, participants were given the opportunity to engage in social sharing by talking about (a) the facts that just transpired, (b) the feelings aroused by the encounters, or (c) the positive aspects of the experience, or they were asked to complete a filler task. Results from quantitative data revealed that participants who engaged in difficult (vs. neutral) customer interactions reported more surface acting and felt more anger. Engaging in social sharing was beneficial: All three types of social sharing were effective in reducing the anger aroused by handling demanding customers. Findings from qualitative analyses suggested that different mechanisms might have contributed to the effectiveness of the three types of social sharing. Future research directions and implications for practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-415
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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