Filtering Gossip

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?”

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything, 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 friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test. 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 friend something good?”

“No, on the contrary...”

“So,” Socrates continued, “You want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend 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?”


  1. Questions I need to ask myself before I say something... Wise man Socrates. I think there was a conference talk recently saying something similar. Man, I struggle with gossiping. Thanks for the post Sidreis! Ima work on this :)

  2. love this concept and i see it as a great principle to apply to my actions as well

    Truth: does what i'm about to do agree with my beliefs, commitments and goals?
    Goodness: are my motives for what i'm about to do good or am i acting out of fear or other negative/reactive emotions?
    Usefulness: will what i'm about to do be beneficial to me and/or someone else?

    1. Ohhh I love that! Thanks! So true. I love principles that can be applied so many different places.

  3. Love this. Now I just need to tattoo it on my brain and put it into practice!

  4. True, good, useful. Gotta remember that one. True, good, useful.

    True, good useful....


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