Addressing Change-o-Phobia: Leading Change Up and Down the Org Chart
Leading Change Effectively • Reducing Change Apprehension & Resistance • Navigating Organizations

Seminar Instructors: Davida Charney, PhD, and Marcia Silverberg, MSW
Upcoming Course Dates: April 16, 2020

Leading changes to an organization’s operations, policies, and/or culture requires a keen understanding of emotions, organizations and persuasive strategies. Drawing on rhetorical theory and organizational psychology, this workshop will help you understand why people resist change, how to plan out the steps for introducing changes, and how to design communications promoting change directed at different audiences and phases of the change process. This class involves case studies and ample time for discussion of participant issues.

Course Description

The art of persuasion—rhetoric—originated 2,500 years ago with the dawn of democracy in Athens. Ever since, scholars have recognized that persuading someone to change an attitude is doable, changing a belief is hard, and changing actions is a mighty challenge. Even when people—and organizations—know that their routines are counter-productive, they resist change because they are afraid of the unknown.

By exploring attitudes, learning some theory, discussing case studies, writing about change in their own organizations, and role playing, participants will:

  • Become more aware of their own approach to change;
  • Better understand the sources of resistance to change;
  • Learn and practice strategies for framing changes to stakeholders, including peers, subordinates and managers;
  • Learn strategies for managing change over time.

Key lessons covered in this course are:

  • What counts as “change” and what are its phases? What reactions are typical at each phase? Why do players interpret reality so differently? How can resistance become helpful for creating change?
  • How can change-agents form coalitions? How can “rhetorical listening” foster openness? How can “ownership talk” foster receptivity? How can “reciprocity talk” increase commitment?
  • How can unexpected conflicts and obstacles be addressed? How can “synergy rhetoric” foster consensus on priorities? What kinds of concessions and counter-arguments are most effective?
  • What are the keys to successful change? Why do most transformation efforts fail? How can change be implemented over time while preventing backsliding?
Details & Registration

Location: UT Austin Campus
Upcoming Courses: April 16, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 0.7 CEUs will be awarded upon completion of this course (seven hours of instruction)

Seminar Pricing

Seminar Fee Includes:

  • Course Registration
  • Parking
  • WiFi Access
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments
  • Course Materials

If you have questions prior to registering, please see our Professional Training FAQ or contact Miles Husid, HDO’s Marketing Coordinator, at

Spring 2020

Course Leader(s)

Davida Charney, PhD, has been a professor in UT Austin’s Department of Rhetoric and Writing for nearly 20 years. In addition to rhetorical theory, she is an experienced teacher of business and technical communication as well as public policy argument. She has also served as a member and/or chair for numerous faculty committees, association boards, and local advocacy groups.

Marcia Silverberg, MSW, is the owner and founder of HR Directions, the consulting firm that she founded in 1998. HR Directions helps its clients align their people strategies with their business goals to achieve organizational success. Frequently this involves coaching executives and facilitating important meetings. Marcia retired in 2013 as Vice President, HR Strategic Initiatives and System Office Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for Ascension Health, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in the country with over 150,000 employees.

Who Should Participate?

The majority of participants in our Seminars and Certificate Programs are mid- and upper-level professionals working in the business, nonprofit, government, or military sectors; however, professionals at all levels of experience are welcome to participate. There are no prerequisites for enrolling in an HDO Professional Seminar.

While all HDO Seminars are developed with wide-ranging applicability in mind, the following individuals and groups will likely find Addressing Change-o-Phobia Up and Down the Org Chart most directly relevant to their work:

  • Senior/Executive Leadership
  • Middle Management
  • Team Leaders & Supervisors
  • Human Resources/Talent Management Directors & Managers
  • Change Management Specialists and Consultants

Out-of-Town Participants

For participants coming in for seminars from outside the Austin area, there are several hotels near campus, many within walking distance.

HDO recommends the following hotels:

HDO works with these many of these venues on a regular basis. If you need assistance selecting a hotel, please contact Jessica Crawford, HDO’s Senior Administrative Associate at

On-campus parking is covered for all participants for the day of their seminar. For transit information, please visit Capital Metro’s website.


Awesome program. I wrote 11 pages of notes and I don’t feel like I came close to capturing everything. Thank you for a great program.

– David Byrd, PhD, Associate Dean of Nursing, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio


The instructors were 100% my favorite element of the seminar. They were approachable, empathetic, knowledgeable, and encouraging. They empowered me as a professional and helped me realize that I can be successful in my new career.

– Jenna Saldana, Organizational Change Management Coordinator, Teacher Retirement System of Texas


The course was great. Deconstructing the human processes and reactions to change was very helpful, as was examining vocabulary and phraseology for moving change forward.

– Richard Bralow, Legal Counsel, TransCanada


Being able to apply skills to my own scenario means that I actually felt like I was getting something done, rather than just digesting content. I really appreciate the frameworks and checklists I can use to move change forward and make it successful.

– Adrienne Arroyo, Science Secondary Specialist, Austin ISD


The instructors were right, the role playing turned out to be the best part! Instructors were wonderful and did a great job helping us apply lessons learned to our own workplaces.

– Michael New, Contract and Administrative Specialist, San Marcos Treatment Center


I found the conceptual models and practical strategies the most useful. I learned a lot in this course and have my work cut out for me. The instructors were phenomenal and worked so well together.

– Jyothi Gupta, PhD, Occupational Therapy Department Chair and Director of Residential Programs, A.T. Still University