English historian and Henry Thomas Buckle believed, “You could divide people into three classes: Low class, middle class, and high class.” Buckle stated, “Low class people are the ones who talk about other people. These are the people who are always gossiping and spreading rumors. Middle class are the ones who talk about events and things. These are the people who talk about the weather, and scores of ball games.” The high class, Buckle believed,” Are the ones who talk about ideas. These are the people who end up changing the world, and leaving legacy’s behind because of the impact they’ve had on mankind.”
First lady Eleanor Roosevelt summed it up like this: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
There’s a story that’s told about a man who excitedly ran up to Socrates and said, “Let me tell you what I just heard about a friend of yours?” The wise philosopher stopped the man dead in his tracks and said, “Hold on a minute, before you tell me, I’d like you to pass a little test. I call it the Triple Filter Test.”
“The Triple Filter Test, what’s that?” the man asked the Greek philosopher. “The Triple Filter Test is a test I use to establish if what you are about to tell me is factual and useful,” Socrates replied. The philosopher continued, “So before you talk about one of my friends, let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say.”
“The first filter,” Socrates explained, “is truth. Have you made absolutely certain that what you’re about to tell me is true?” “No,” the man shook his head and said, “I just heard about it, and…”
Socrates cut him off. “You don’t know for certain that it’s true? Then is what you want to tell me about my friend something good or kind?” Again, the man shook his head. “No, actually, it’s just the opposite. You see…”
Socrates interrupted the man by lifting up his hand and said, “So you’re not certain that what you want to tell me is true, and it isn’t good or kind. One filter remains however, so you may still get to tell me. The last filter is, is this information useful to me?” Embarrassed and feeling defeated, the man replied, “No, not really.”
With a disgusted look on his face, Socrates scorned at the man and said, “Well then, if what you want to say about my friend is neither true, nor kind, nor even useful, please don’t say anything at all.”
More of us need to take Socrates approach when it comes to people spreading gossip about our friends. Because a true friend will never stand by while others talk bad about you. A real friend will stick up for you and come to your aid. They’ll have your back.
If someone’s comfortable criticizing you, or putting you down in front of a person who’s supposed to be a your friend, then that says a lot about your friendship with that person. Most people are hesitant to criticize, or badmouth someone, unless they are certain the person they are talking to will not object. I love the saying: Don’t tell me what was said about me. Tell me why they were so comfortable saying it to you.