How To Talk To Your Boss About Burnout

If you're wondering how to talk to your boss about burnout, especially when feeling overwhelmed by job stress, you're taking a crucial step. Job burnout, characterized by long hours, tight deadlines, and sometimes a lack of recognition, is a common issue.

While the idea of discussing work-related stress with your supervisor might seem daunting, it can be a constructive and beneficial conversation.

In this post, we'll guide you through effective ways to communicate with your boss. These tips are designed to help you address burnout and maintain a healthy balance in your work life.

Skeleton feeling burnout from his job in a post about how to talk to your boss about burnout

Start by Recognizing What Burnout Is

It's important to recognize burnout – a prolonged response to prolonged stressors and stop being judgmental before recognizing it. This means that it doesn't just happen suddenly but builds up over time as our challenging tasks become more difficult, our unsafe working environments become more demanding, and our resources are depleted.

Knowing this will help you communicate with your boss from an informed standpoint and increase the chances of success for both parties.

Work Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress or pressure at work. It often results in helplessness and hopelessness when faced with job-related tasks. Some Common burnout signs that you may be experiencing burnout include:

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Express How You Feel in a Professional Way

Once you have identified that you are experiencing burnout, it is important to express your feelings professionally. When speaking to your boss, focus on the facts and avoid negativity or blame. Be honest about your feelings and explain how your current workload is taking a toll on your energy levels and productivity. You can also provide suggestions for better ways to help manage the situation, such as delegating tasks, adjusting working hours, or reducing the project scope.

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Be Respectful

It’s important to always be respectful and professional when speaking to your boss about burnout. Be mindful of their time constraints, stand up for yourself without being confrontational, and be open to any feedback they provide. Remember that your boss wants you to succeed as much as you do and is likely to be open to working together to find the best solution for everyone.

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Take Care of Yourself

Your mental and emotional well-being should always come first, so make sure that you’re taking steps to manage your stress levels. This might include getting enough rest, exercising regularly, eating healthily, and taking some time to yourself each day. When you’re in a better place mentally and physically, you can address any issues with your boss and work through them.

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Be Prepared

Before speaking with your boss about burnout, clearly understand what you want to say. How do you feel? How is it affecting your work? How can you and your boss work together to combat it? Having this all laid out in advance will help ensure that the conversation runs smoothly and efficiently.

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Set A Right Time To Meet With Your Boss

Once you have identified the problem, set aside time to meet with your boss and let them know what's happening. Make sure you come prepared:

Most bosses will appreciate seeing evidence of research and preparation when discussing a sensitive topic like employee burnout. 

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Be Open And Honest When Discussing

When discussing how to talk To Your boss about burnout, it is essential to be open and honest:

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Don't Apologize For Feeling Burnt Out 

It's natural for us to feel bad or embarrassed when we admit we're struggling but don't apologize for feeling burnt out – there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself!

Instead, explain why addressing the issue promptly is important (e.g., increased productivity) so they understand why addressing it now rather than later is key.  

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Find Ways To Take Care Of Yourself During Work Hours 

One way to reduce feelings of burnout during work hours is by making small changes that prioritize self-care, such as:

All these strategies can help keep feelings of overwhelming at bay while also allowing us some time for ourselves during hectic days at work!  

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Follow Up As Needed 

Finally - once you have had an initial conversation with your boss about your feelings of burnout - don't forget to follow up regularly with them afterward!

Reassure them that all suggestions were considered and put into practice - they may even be grateful for this kind reminder!

Plus, this provides an opportunity for further discussion should any issues arise regarding managing workloads or other most mentally draining aspect related to burnout prevention and treatment in future weeks/months, etc.[2]

Doing this will demonstrate commitment and responsibility, too - something every employer looks favorably upon!


Burnout can be a difficult thing to talk about, but you must do so to protect yourself from long-term damage. Talking to your boss about burnout is a critical skill that you should practice to prevent and manage burnout at chronic workplace stress and also read how to be a better boss.

By following these steps, you'll have the best chance of talking to your boss openly and effectively about this important issue and starting a burnout recovery plan. Good luck!


Q: How do you talk to your boss about burnout?

Talking to your boss about burnout can be daunting, but it is important to protect your health and work-life balance. When discussing the issue with your boss, you are honest and explain how the situation has impacted your job performance and well-being. Ask them for support in finding solutions that will reduce personal stress or manageable workload and ensure that any proposed solutions are achievable given current resources.

Q: How do I demonstrate to my boss that I'm burned out?

The best way to demonstrate to your boss that you are feeling burnout is by being honest and open about your current state. Describe how the situation has impacted your job performance and well-being, and provide evidence of changes in behavior or output. Explain its impact on your overall energy and motivation levels, with specific examples if possible. Lastly, propose solutions that would help reduce stress or workload and ensure that any proposed solutions are achievable given current resources.

Q: How can I make sure my boss takes this request seriously?

Make sure to have clear evidence and examples of how burnout is impacting your work, and emphasize the importance of reducing stress and workload to ensure job performance. Be prepared to discuss potential solutions that are realistic, given current resources. Communicate why this issue is important, and be open to feedback from your boss. By taking a professional, respectful approach and being prepared to discuss the issue, you will show your boss that this is a priority for you.


  1. betterup: Signs of burnout at work — and what to do about it
  2. helpguide: Burnout Prevention and Treatment

How To Be A Better Boss

Learning how to be a better boss is crucial, as we've all experienced that one employer who was impossible to please, always finding fault with our work and making us dread coming in.

On the flip side, some of us have been fortunate enough to work under a fantastic boss — an influential leader who genuinely cared about us as individuals, respected our input, and inspired us to do our best.

The former often leads to dismal morale and high turnover rates among workers, while the latter can boost employees' output and establish a high-performance culture. So, what exactly makes the difference? Why does one leader outperform another? And how can you, as a person, become a better boss?

If you're struggling to connect with your employees, we suggest reading How To Improve Interpersonal Relationships In The Workplace.

A confident leader standing in front of a diverse team in a post about how to be a better boss

How To Be A Better Boss

Being a leader is no easy task. Below are some strategies to help you become a better boss.

Solve Problems Effectively

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Be A Better Listener

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Be Resilient In The Face Of Uncertainty And Pressure

Treat Employees With Respect

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Build Personal Relationships

Encourage Work-life Balance

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Incorporate A Shared Vision

Encourage Discipline

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Challenge Them

Get The Best From Your Team Member

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Invest In Yourself And Your Future By Enrolling In A Leadership Program

Hire Better Employees

A cheerful boss greeting team members  in a post about how to be a better boss

Put Off A Positive Mood

Traits Of A Good Boss

Mostly, employees don't quit jobs, they quit bad bosses. You don't want to be a bad boss.

What are the traits of a good and effective boss? Let's take a look:

Communicates Clear Vision

When people come to work, they want to contribute meaningfully and do a decent job. Leaders that effectively convey the company's purpose to their staff should expect a more invested and productive team.

This motivates workers to take an active role in achieving the company's goals.

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Sets Performance Expectations

Employees report higher stress levels when their roles, position, and responsibilities are unclear.

An effective manager will clarify employees' expectations by offering detailed job descriptions that outline their duties and include attainable goals for the company's success.

Provides Feedback

Employees may not always be aware when they are falling short of expectations.

One of the many leadership skills of successful leaders is to help employees grow and improve. The relationship with employees can be strengthened by regular feedback.

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Nobody likes their employer more than they hate their job. What distinguishes a great boss from a bad boss is the quality time spent supporting employees.

As a result, the manager shouldn't be a doormat. Those who report working under a caring manager report greater job satisfaction, lower levels of stress, and more productivity.

Reward Efforts

One of the important hallmarks of a great manager is showing appreciation for staff and publicly rewarding hard work.

Employees will always value recognition, whether in the form of a certificate, award, luncheon, or email.

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Gets To Know Employees

A good manager and boss take the time to stop by the office and show genuine interest in their staff.

When a boss takes an active interest in an employee's personal life, including their hobbies, training, career, family, and other pursuits, it sends a strong message that the worker is valued.

Adds Some Fun To The Workplace

Every worker appreciates a positive and enjoyable workplace. Monthly potlucks, birthday celebrations, and door decoration contests are easy ways to bring joy to the workplace. Such gatherings might serve as excellent opportunities for team bonding and entertainment.

in a post about how to be a better boss


A bad leader avoids making decisions or causes them to linger for too long. Leaders that excel at their jobs are quick to make decisions and never suffer from "analysis paralysis."

Leaders should remember that decision-making is often more crucial than the outcome itself. Bosses that act quickly and with conviction will make mistakes, but they will keep their teams moving forward.

Indecisiveness, however, can do irreparable harm to your business and reputation, whereas wrong decisions can be corrected.


Being a better manager calls for a lot of time and effort, as well as self-control, discipline, and empathy. It also necessitates perpetual study and exercise. Since people are, in general, difficult to deal with, you may find that many of your expectations are dashed.

You will have a better chance of being an effective leader, though, if you are genuinely committed to taking charge and can successfully take charge of yourself first.


Why Do New Bosses Fail?

Most new bosses fail because they weren't properly trained to be leaders and have bad attitudes.


  1. hbr; Two-Thirds of Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Employees
  2. hbr; How to Become a Better Listener
  3. media; Research Insights

How To Deal With A Passive Aggressive Boss?

Learning how to deal with a passive aggressive boss is crucial, as we often encounter difficult people in the workplace, where interactions with co-workers are as significant as the job itself. To maintain sanity and job security, it's important to have strategies for handling passive aggressiveness, whether it comes from a challenging boss or a bothersome colleague.

Let's explore effective methods for managing passive-aggressive bosses.

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Steps on how to handle a passive aggressive people in general?

Since passive-aggressive people can come in all shapes and sizes, it's essential to know how to handle them. One should keep a cool head, give the other person their personal space, and refrain from playing their games. Here are some more strategies:

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Subtle Discontent

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Procrastination and Avoidance

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Guilt Tripping

Shifting Blame

Pro Tip for Self-Awareness

"The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment" is recommended for insight and developing self-awareness.

Strategies for Employees


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Effective Communication

Pro tip

For additional insights on enhancing communication and interpersonal relationships in the workplace, visit Shrink's Office - How to Improve Interpersonal Relationships in the Workplace.
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Offering Solutions

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Setting Boundaries and Self-Care

Pro Tip for Self-Care

"Self-Care: A Day and Night Reflection Journal (90 Days)" is recommended for self-awareness and reflection.
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Group Support

Online Therapy Can Help

Online therapy emerges as a vital resource for individuals grappling with the challenges of a passive-aggressive boss. It offers a confidential and accessible platform for employees to explore and understand their feelings, frustrations, and reactions in a safe environment. With professional guidance, individuals can develop effective coping strategies and communication skills tailored to navigate the complexities of passive-aggressive dynamics in the workplace.


Passive-aggressive behavior can be challenging, especially when you don't know what is happening. Your first step should always be to talk to the passive aggressor, but if that doesn't work, then it's time to make some tough decisions. In many cases, your only option may be to quit your organization and find a new one where there are better people skills in the workplace.

In other instances, if you're just not getting along with your passive-aggressive boss or co-workers, it may not be worth leaving because the company is excellent in other areas. In this case, think about speaking up more at meetings and giving constructive feedback to your new boss about how he could improve his communication skills.


What are the first steps I should take when dealing with a passive-aggressive boss?

The initial step is to objectively assess the situation. Keep a detailed record of instances where your boss displays passive-aggressive behavior, noting dates, times, and the context. This documentation can be crucial for identifying patterns and providing concrete examples if you need to discuss the issue. It's also important to reflect on your own actions to ensure that you're not inadvertently contributing to the dynamic. Seeking advice from trusted colleagues or mentors who might have observed similar behavior can also provide additional perspectives and support.

How should I communicate with my boss about their passive-aggressive behavior?

Communication should be approached carefully and strategically. Choose a private and calm setting to discuss your concerns. Use specific examples from your documentation to describe the behavior without being accusatory. Focus on how the behavior impacts your work and well-being. Express your willingness to understand their perspective and work together to improve the situation. It's crucial to remain professional, calm, and empathetic during the conversation, avoiding any confrontational tone.

What if direct communication doesn't improve the situation with my passive-aggressive boss?

If direct communication doesn't lead to a positive change, consider escalating the issue to higher management or human resources, especially if it's affecting your work performance or mental health. Provide your documented instances of passive-aggressive behavior as evidence. Additionally, seeking external support, such as online therapy, can provide you with coping mechanisms and strategies to handle the stress and emotional toll. Remember, it's important to prioritize your well-being and professional growth, even if it means seeking opportunities in a more supportive work environment.


  1. Medical News Today: 7 Examples Of Passive-Aggressive Behavior
  2. Business Insider: 11 signs your boss is passive aggressive
  3. Forbes: How To Handle A Passive-Aggressive Supervisor
  4. MindTools: Managing Your Emotions at Work
  5. Hubspot: How to Communicate Effectively at Work With Your Boss
  6. Verywell Mind: What Is Passive-Aggressive Behavior
  7. Medical News Today:  7 Examples Of Passive-Aggressive Behavior
  8. Havard Business Review: How To Deal with a Passive Aggressive Colleague
  9. HBR: How to Deal with a Passive-Aggressive Boss
  10. HBR: How To Deal with a Passive Aggressive Colleague
  11. HealthPrep: Conditions And Causes Linked To Passive-Aggressive Behavior
  12. Workology: How to Handle Your Abusive or Aggressive Boss
  13. Chron: How To Handle A Boss On A Power Strip