A Sorrow Halved? A Daily Diary Study on Talking About Experienced Workplace Incivility and Next-Morning Negative Affect

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Abstract

Incivility by coworkers and customers can have detrimental consequences for employees’ affective well-being at work. However, little is known about whether incivility also impairs employees’ affect at home and how long these negative effects may last. In this diary study, we examine whether incivility by coworkers and customers is related to next-morning negative affect via negative affect at the end of the workday and at bedtime, and investigate different modes of social sharing (i.e., conversations about experienced mistreatment) as day-level moderators of this relationship. Daily diary data collected over 10 workdays (N = 113 employees) revealed that coworker incivility was indirectly related to bedtime negative affect via negative affect at the end of the workday, and customer incivility was indirectly related to next-morning negative affect via negative affect at the end of the workday and at bedtime. Although we found no moderating effect for conversations in an affective sharing mode (i.e., conversation partners provide comfort and consolation), the relationship between workplace incivility and employees’ negative affect was buffered by conversations in a cognitive sharing mode (i.e., conversation partners suggest alternative explanations or reappraisal of uncivil behavior). In line with social sharing theory, our results suggest that talking about experienced mistreatment can, under specific circumstances, offset the negative relationship of uncivil coworker and customer behavior and employees’ negative affect. This study advances current research on workplace incivility by studying negative affect 3 times a day and thus sheds light on the mechanism connecting workplace incivility and employees’ affective well-being at home.

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