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So what is burnout, anyway?

Burnout consists of three terms:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Depersonalization
  • Diminished personal accomplishment (Maslach & Jackson, 1986).

Emotional exhaustion is by far the most researched and reported facet of burnout.  Now watch how it interacts with people and situations.

We all have the ability to choose how we react to a situation.  People with a higher sense of self-awareness are said to have higher emotional intelligence.  Can’t people with higher emotional intelligence just simply choose to react differently to a given situation?  Can’t they just get over it?

Researchers have found a definitive link between a person’s emotional intelligence and his or her overall level of job satisfaction.  But this is not a direct relationship.  Emotional exhaustion plays a role between the two (Moon & Hur, 2011).

Emotional Intelligence —>  Emotional Exhaustion —>  Job Satisfaction

What has surprised researchers about this arrangement is that people with high degrees of emotional intelligence are not always immune to burnout (Moon & Hur, 2011).


Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1986). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Moon, T., & Hur, W. (2011). Emotional intelligence, emotional exhaustion, and job performance. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 39(8), 1087-1096. doi:org/10.2224/sbp.2011.39.8.1087