The Triple Filter Test

I think it's fair to say that gossip is a favorite pastime for a lot of people. I know do it sometimes, especially when I feel "poisoned" by something I've heard and don't want to keep it inside. Lately, however, I've been thinking more and more about the effects of such ways of thinking, and speaking. We are probably all familiar with one version or another of the "Feathers in the Wind" story, so instead of sharing that, I'd like to share a story I just heard a few days ago...

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.

One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?"
"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test."
"Triple filter?"
"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
"No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and..."
"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"
"No, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you're not certain it's true?"
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued. "You may still pass the test though,because there is a third filter - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"
"No, not really..."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"
The man was defeated and ashamed.
This is one of the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

As I said, gossip is something I struggle with from time to time, however, I am trying to filter that way of communicating out of my life. I mean, how great would it be if we all asked ourselves these questions, and used these filters, before we either shared or listened?

1 comment:

Appleseed Gifts said...

This is so true...the think before you speak. I am very close to someone who prides herself on her bluntness, which stands to reason...she is a gossiper. Love her, but she finds no fault in rubbing in the negative about anyone or anything. Which goes to another lesson I've learned...which kind of friends are you? A Soulful friends-one who fills you up and lifts you high? Or one who sucks you dry and leaves you empty? Food for thought...

Thanks so much for sharing!
Appleseed Gifts