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This Week in Rotary
Chief Judge Wendy L. Hagenau, Brilliant on Civil Discourse

On December 10, The Rotary Club of Sandy Springs had the privilege of hearing from the honorable Judge Wendy L. Hagenau. Expecting her to share stories from her vast experience in handling thousands of bankruptcy cases, she instead gave an insightful and plain-spoken dissertation relating to civil discourse.

With quotes from Sandra Day O’Conner, Neil Gorsuch, General Patton, and Alexander Hamilton, Judge Hagenau kept us enthralled. She reminded us that it is acceptable to disagree, and it is our job to find a compromise. She noted that our U.S. Constitution is, in fact, a beautifully crafted compromise by our founding fathers.

As other helpful reminders, Judge Hagenau exhorted the following imperatives:

  • Speak with civility.
  • Avoid absolutes.
  • Listen and understand.
  • Stay on topic and avoid opinions concerning your opposition.
  • Learn to distinguish between opinion and fact.
  • It is most helpful when we can assume that the other person is trying to get at the truth.
  • Communicate to lean and not to win.

With this notable statement, she impressed upon us that “Simply repeating: ‘I am right’ is not helpful and is not advancing the flow of information.” She went on to reiterate that, “The facts are really important, and it is incumbent upon us all to be able to separate opinions from facts.”

She recommended a perennial best-selling book called, “Getting to Yes” by William Ury and Roger Fisher. The two authors were members of the Harvard Negotiation Project where they focused on the psychology of negotiation in their method, "principled negotiation", finding acceptable solutions by determining which needs are fixed and which are flexible for negotiators.

It was truly a pleasure to listen to her presentation. She reminded each of our responsibilities when encountering civil discourse.


Chief Judge Wendy L. Hagenau



Rotary President Fred Ferrand and Chief Judge Wendy L. Hagenau

Past president, Sally Mclaughlin and Chief Judge Wendy L. Hagenau

Chief Judge Wendy L. Hagenau and Dr. Charan Shikh

These photos and more are available at Zenfolio/RotaryClubOfSandySprings.

Posted by Todd Lawrimore
December 10, 2018 12:00pm

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