Part 2: Our Influence On Other People's Burnout

We all constantly look to the people around us for cues on how to behave. Learn three ways you can influence other people's burnout.

Part 2: Our Influence On Other People's Burnout
Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

In Part 1: Burnout Is A Thousand Tiny Self-Betrayals, I discussed the role we play in our own burnout through all the tiny choices we make over and over again to put our needs last— and how those choices add up over time. I also shared some strategies to safeguard against those tiny self-betrayals to help prevent burnout and recover from it.

In this part, I will dig into our influence on others’ burnout and how we can help those around us prevent and recover from burnout.

First, I need to make it clear that you are not responsible for other people’s choices or behaviours. The things I share in this article are not meant to imply in any way that someone else’s burnout is your fault. While I think there is an argument that all of us as individuals could potentially play a part in perpetuating burnout culture, you can only control yourself and your own behaviour.

With that in mind, you have more influence on the people around you than you might think. 

We are all looking for indicators of how to behave

Humans are social creatures. We constantly look to others for cues on what is and is not socially acceptable. We form opinions (and biases) based on the information and discourse we are exposed to. Of course, we can establish our own opinions or behave in ways that are different from those around us. But we are often impacted by what’s considered “the norm” in our social circles.

We also see and internalize all the cues in the media, from celebrity fashion to TikTok challenges to prime-time news. All kinds of messages seep into our lives as cultural trends ebb and wane. The cues and trends we are exposed to play a large part in what we believe to be acceptable

But even more influential are the people closest to us. It’s the people with whom we spend the most time who play the most significant part in influencing us… and who we influence in turn.

Be it your children, partner, friends or colleagues, your words and behaviours have a direct impact on others. 

Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

Three ways we can influence other people’s burnout

1. Model

If you want to help break down the culture of burnout, even in your tiny corner of the world, you have to model the corresponding behaviours yourself. It’s not enough to say you support mental and physical health, healthy boundaries, and a calm life when you also talk about how busy and exhausted you are. It’s not enough to say you don’t expect others to work after hours or push through breaks if you do those things.

When you don’t take care of your body, rest, or set boundaries around your time and energy, you send the message that that is how everyone else is also expected to behave.

You have to walk the talk: Put those tiny safeguards in place, say no to things that don’t fit in your life, take care of your body, and have reasonable expectations for your time. Others see those behaviours and think,

“Maybe it’s okay not to be busy all the time”


“Maybe it’s okay to rest and recharge without pushing myself to burnout.” 

Otherwise, it’s just talk.

2. Support

We all need a little encouragement sometimes to break out of unhealthy habits. You can play a significant role in supporting the people around you in making those choices. 

Validate and acknowledge
When someone in your life shares that they are burnt out or overwhelmed, listen and acknowledge their experience. Burnout is caused by a combination of internal and external factors. Be a person that others can be open with regardless of what those factors are so that they are not suffering in silence.

Reinforce change through encouragement and praise
It is difficult to change habits and make healthy choices when exhausted and burnt out. Encouragement and praise for behaviours that reduce burnout go a long way to reinforcing them. You can support through responses like:

“I’m glad you spoke up about your plate being full and said you need more time on that project.”


“I appreciate that you told me you needed to cancel our plan because you needed some rest time. Let’s catch up when you feel better.” 

A little kindness can go a long way.

Share your experiences (but DON’T SHOULD)
When someone is struggling, it can be powerful to know they are not alone. Ask them if it would be helpful to hear your experience with burnout, and if they are open to it, share the things that were helpful for you. 

That said, don’t give unsolicited advice or tell others what they “should” do. Ask first, and if they want to hear it, let them take what they will from what you share. The minute you feel the words you should forming in your mouth, STOP! 

Act as an accountability partner
Another way to support healthy behaviours in others to reduce or prevent burnout is to be an accountability partner. Maybe you are working on adding movement to your day, so you invite a colleague to take a lunch walk every day. Maybe you are working on reducing the time you spend cooking and eating out so you connect with a few friends to do meal sharing each week. 

It’s easier to stick to things when other people are involved, so if you know someone who is trying to reduce the overwhelm in their life and you are, too, see how you can partner up. 

Be a helping hand. Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

3. Advocate

If you are in a leadership role, you are also in a position to advocate for the people you lead. Consider the ways you can be a champion for them:

Foster healthy workplaces
If you are a business owner, consider flexible work arrangements for your team members. Maybe it’s allowing adjusted hours for school drop-off and pickup or different work-from-home arrangements. Maybe it’s having healthy snacks in the office and benefits that support mental and physical health.

Connect with colleagues
Check-in with the people around you. You can’t support them if you don’t know what’s going on. Have regular one-on-ones so you understand what’s going on in your colleagues' lives and if there is anything you can do to support them. 

Do individual and team goal-setting with realistic goals and clear action steps
When everyone knows what they are working towards (individually and as a team) and has a clear vision of how to get there, it’s easier to stay engaged and take pride in their work. Individuals are happier when they feel like they are part of something and know the value of their particular contribution. 

Stand up for your team
If you know your team is at capacity, push back client requests or additional projects. Ask for extra time or clarity on priorities. See what the options are to keep workloads reasonable and your team feeling healthy and supported. Do what you can to stand up for your team.

As I mentioned at the beginning, you are not responsible for the behaviours or choices that others make. You can model, support, and advocate, and they might still make choices that lead them down the road to burnout. But you can take responsibility for your own choices and behaviours, as well as your influence, and do your small part in the quest to reduce burnout culture and be a champion for a culture of calm.

If you are struggling with how to calm your overwhelm and step off the path to burnout, please reach out!