I think most all of us have either been guilty of either saying something we shouldn’t have, or listening to something we ought not to, and likely we’ve made the mistake of doing both. It’s likely we have all made those mistakes more times than we wish we had, and I can’t think of a single time when making that mistake wasn’t something I regretted. There is simply no joy that comes from saying or hearing hurtful things about others.
I want to share a little story about something called The Triple Filter Test:
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?” Socrates replied, “Before you talk to me about my friend, I’d like you to consider my Triple Filter test.”
“The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?” “Well, 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. Let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend good or kind?” “No, on the contrary…” “So,” Socrates continued, “you aren’t certain if it’s true, and it isn’t good or kind. There is one last filter left – the filter of useful. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?” A little defeated the man replied, “No, not really.” “Well, then,” Socrates said, turning on his heel. “If what you want to say is neither true, nor good or kind, nor useful, please don’t say anything at all.” —
Think how differently we would all talk about one another if we first applied this Triple Filter Test before words came out of our mouths. Is what we are about to say true? Is it good or kind? Is it useful? Leaving things unsaid if the answer to those questions wasn’t YES.
In addition, how much better of a friend would we be to others if we stopped people from gossiping about our friends to us by first asking those same questions and when the answer wasn’t yes we simply asked them not to tell us.
Try applying the Triple Filter Test for even just one day and see if you don’t feel happier when the day is done. I know I do! Have an amazing day of positive words and conversations!
~Amy Rees Anderson