Trust is an essential element of every healthy relationship. When relationships are rooted in trust, the result is better communication, greater creativity, increased happiness, and higher productivity and profitability in the workplace. The level of trust that people place in you directly affects your ability to meet the goals and objectives that you set for yourself.

Yet trust is not something that you are born with. Every day, you make decisions that affect how much other people trust you. Think about it: Every interaction you have with someone is a chance to deposit (or withdraw) a coin in your trust account.

To quote American essayist and critic H.L. Mencken, “It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest, that holds human associations together.”

The Four-Way Test

Inevitably, you will face situations that require difficult choices. While there is no single, or universal, code of ethics to make life easier, The Four-Way Test can help guide your interactions at home, in the workplace, in your community, and within society.

If you are a Rotarian like me, you are familiar with The Four-Way Test. Fortunately, you do NOT need to be a Rotary Club member to benefit from The Four-Way Test which Herbert J. Taylor developed in 1932 and Rotary International adopted in 1943. Now in the public domain, it is available to anyone who wants to build strong, trust-based relationships.

Of the things we think, say, or do, The Four-Way Test poses four simple yet powerful questions. They are:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Additional Resources

Rather than provide answers about what is right or ethical, The Four-Way Test encourages you to look at situations through different lenses, and to consider not only your values but also the value of others—one of the essential elements to building and maintaining trust.

As a professional speaker, author, business owner, and relationship builder, I rely on The Four-Way Test to make better decisions and build stronger relationships. It guides my daily personal interactions, and it allows me to put my best foot forth as a member of The Rotary Club of Portland and Rotary International.

Want to learn more? Click on the links below.

Read my essay, “The Trusted Way,” in the February 2023 issue of Rotary Magazine.

Purchase a copy of my book, The Trusted Way: A Story About Building a Life and Business of Character, on Amazon.

Inquire about getting books for your next Rotary Club meeting, conference, or event.


Patrick Galvin is an accomplished professional speaker, coach, and author as well as the co-founder and chief galvanizer of The Galvanizing Group, a learning and talent development company that helps high-performance companies and teams galvanize repeat and referred business through trust-based relationships. An active member of Rotary, Patrick was a featured speaker at the 2015 Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil. Drawing on his experience as a Rotarian, he gave a 2020 TEDx Talk on the mental and physical benefits of serving others.

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