🤐 The 4-way test

of the things we think, say or do

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Enjoy today’s Habit Example!

⚡️ Estimated read time: 2 minutes 37 seconds.



At a public restroom that overlooks beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene, there’s a sort of random sign on the wall.

It first caught my eye a few years ago while riding bikes with my family.

Ever since then, it’s message has stuck with me:

Before you say or do anything, ask:

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

Can you imagine what the world would look like if everyone sincerely considered these 3 simple questions before speaking?

Despite what you might think, I don’t think it’s an all or nothing filter of what to say or not. Instead, I see it as a simple guide for how to refine what you’re about to say before you say it.

Imagine you’re about to say something that’s both true and necessary, but not kind. You’ve got a chance to fix that if you mentally ask these questions.

Or maybe it’s kind, but definitely not true. You might think you’re stuck choosing whether to be honest or kind.

You don’t have to make that choice! And there’s a 20-year study explaining why.

But the funny thing is, I remembered the sign all wrong.

I just found the picture I took of it back in 2022:

So it was 4 questions, not 3.

And I only accurately remembered the first one. 😂

In spirit and principle, it’s the same idea though, right?

One study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that while most people “tell the truth consistently”, the average person tells anywhere between 0-2 lies per day.

While it’s far from the 15+ per day from the “prolific liars” the study identified, are even 2 lies a day considered acceptable?

On a different note, experts site lack of communication as the culprit for 65% of divorces and 85% of workplace failures.

Clearly there’s a lot more to effective communication than simply whether what you’re saying is true, kind, or necessary.

Or is there?

Try it out this week!

For the next 7 days, make it a habit to regularly ponder and ask yourself either the 3-way test (true/kind/necessary) or the real 4-way test from the sign (true/fair/goodwill/beneficial) before speaking.

Especially if both stakes and emotions are high in a conversation

Then take note of how conversations go differently than you’re used to.

Like any habit, this won’t feel natural overnight - it’ll take conscious effort for a while.

But would you rather continue having the same communication failures you always have, or try something new?

If nothing changes,

nothing changes.

Which do you like better: the 3-way test, or the 4-way one from the sign? Hit reply and let me know!



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“Jesus made waterparks!”

— My 3-year-old



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