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I recently read this story and it really impacted me and my thought process on what I say or don’t say.
Strolling through Athens, Socrates crossed paths with a friend. His friend grinned and said, “Socrates listen to what I just heard about one of your students!”
Before the man could blurt out his story, Socrates said, “Just a moment. Before you tell me, I’d like to evaluate the news to see if it is of benefit to hear it. It’s the triple screening method for filtering through information.
Socrates went on saying, “Before you tell to me about this other person, let’s take just a few seconds to screen through what you desire to say.”
“The first screen to run information through is Truth. Are you absolutely certain that what you desire to tell me is completely true?”
“No,” his friend said, “Actually, I just heard this and” Socrates interrupted him….
“Interesting,” said Socrates. “So you don’t if what you heard is really true or not. Let’s apply the second screen to what you heard, the screen of Goodness. Is what you want to tell me about this student of mine something good?”
“No, actually it’s rather bad, and that’s why I thought” Again Socrates interrupted him…
Socrates next said, “So even though you aren’t certain this thing is true, you want to tell me things about him that are bad.”
Looking a bit embarrassed his friend kind of shrugged and nodded.
Socrates then said,. “You might still pass this screening process though, because next is the screen of Usefulness. Is what you heard about him, going to be useful to me in some way?”
“No, it won’t really be of any use to you.”
“I see.” concluded Socrates, “Well if what you want to tell me is not necessarily True, and it’s not Good, and it is not Useful or of benefit to me–then why would you want to tell me at all.”
Feeling a bit ashamed, the other man turned and left.
Apply this test to those whose path you cross today. Let me know how it works for you.