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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2009

6 - Tell Me a Story: Emotional Responses to Emotional Expression during Leader “Storytelling”


Author's Note

Kristi Lewis Tyran is Associate Professor of Management, College of Business and Economics, Western Washington University. The author would like to thank Ursula Hess and Pierre Philippot for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Organizations are often thought to be nonemotional venues where serious work is done. Goals are set and accomplished, daily tasks checked off, and goods and services are produced – emotion is generally assumed to be absent or at least unnecessary in the work setting. Recently, scholars have acknowledged what workers have long known: that the workplace is far from a nonemotional environment (Fineman, 1993, 2003). Both positive and negative emotions are experienced and expressed daily, and the quality of these emotional experiences varies from elation and celebration when goals are accomplished to sadness or anger when expectations are not met (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987, 1989; Sutton, 1991). Emotional expression can also be a required part of the job role, as in customer service (Hochschild, 1979, 1983; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1990; Sutton & Rafaeli, 1988). As such, emotion can play a role in all facets of work life. In this chapter, I focus on the worker's emotional reaction to a leader's emotional expression. A leader's expression of emotion in interpersonal interaction may occur incidentally or purposefully. The consequences of emotional expression by a leader in interpersonal communication are complex to predict and vary based on the follower audience.

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