How to Overcome Fear of Authority

Updated November 21, 2016

A fear of authority is when somebody feels very anxious when dealing with a boss at work, or with someone else they see as an authority figure. It is common to feel some degree of apprehension in the face of authority, but for some people this feeling becomes overwhelming and they may show all the signs of anxiety, such as palpitations, sweating and an upset stomach. If a person recognises that this fear has become a problem which is blighting his life, perhaps even preventing his progress at work, he should take steps to address it.

Explore any common themes in your fear of authority. Ask yourself whether this fear applies to one person or one type of person. For instance, you may find male bosses intimidating. Explore some of the possible reasons for this. Did you have a poor relationship with your father or other male authority figure? This may improve your understanding of your fear.

Discuss your fears with a person you trust. This may be a friend or a counsellor. Improve your coping mechanisms, by ensuring you get enough sleep, nutrition and exercise. Learn and practice deep breathing and relaxation exercises. Concentate on other more successful relationships in the workplace, analysing the features that make these relationships work well.

Write a list of your strengths and your achievements. Practice positive thinking. Concentrate on other areas of your life which work well, for instance you may be a person who is considered a loyal friend, or a good husband or father.

Attend assertiveness training. Inability to assert yourself can foster feelings of resentment, even of aggression. Practice assertiveness in other areas of your life, for instance make a complaint in a store or restaurant, without being rude, or allowing yourself to be fobbed off.


Some people find it helpful to imagine a person they fear in a silly situation, perhaps in a pink ballet costume. This can help to reduce the tension when they next feel intimidated.

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About the Author

Noreen Wainwright has been writing since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The Daily Telegraph," "The Guardian," "The Countryman" and "The Lady." She has a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Liverpool Polytechnic and a postgraduate law degree from Staffordshire University.