The Four-Way Test is the nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide Rotarians use for their personal and professional relationships. It is the code by which Rotarians strive to live, and a very important part of the strong, common purpose which binds us together in voluntary membership.

The third tenet of the Four-Way Test is “Will it bring goodwill and better friendships?”

The term “goodwill” has both a personal and a business meaning. In a personal sense, in the way that most Rotarians think of the concept, it means doing something from a position of kindness and compassion in the friendly hope that the action will succeed.  

When Rotarians consider actions taken on a personal or Club level, they should consider how the action will be received - will the action tend to strengthen friendships and enhance a sense of goodwill? Not all necessary actions will do so - the rest of the Four-Way Test applies here as well - but the active consideration of goodwill and friendship are prime considerations in any actionable concept.  

The way in which actions are implemented matters as well. The Four Way Test, and its third tenet, in particular, strongly imply that, whenever possible, decisions should be carefully considered before they’re taken. None of us can ever fully understand how another perceives an action, and it is best, in many cases, to thoughtfully consider whether goodwill and better friendships can result from a contemplated action.    

Goodwill and strong friendships are the “invisible glue” that holds strong Clubs together. The actions we take within the Club should work towards strengthening those bonds so that we may work more effectively in our communities and the world.  

Most Rotarians are intimately familiar with the Four Way Test, and it is not at all unusual to hear the tenets of the test applied in our daily exchanges with each other and our communities. Try it yourself - it makes a very real and positive difference in how we treat each other.      

The Four Way Test:

“Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?

  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”



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