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

Seminar Instructors: Davida Charney, PhD, and Marcia Silverberg, MSW
Upcoming Course Dates: October 23, 2019; November 6, 2019

Changing an organization’s policies, culture, or operating procedures requires the utmost in persuasive strategies. Drawing on rhetorical theory and organizational psychology, this workshop will help you understand why people resist change, plan out steps for introducing changes, and design communications promoting change directing at different kinds of audiences.

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: October 23, 2019; November 6, 2019
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

  • Standard Registration: $1,000
  • UT System Staff/Alumni Registration: $650
  • Educator/Nonprofit/Government/Military Registration: $650
  • HDO Master’s Program Alumni: Free
  • Group Pricing
  • Certificate Seeker Discount

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

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

To learn more about this course and to see if it is right for you, check out Davida and Marcia’s blog post!

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 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




Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO): Higher Education at The University of Texas at Austin offering an Executive Master's Degree, Professional Training programs, and a Bachelor's Degree