The Gossip Test
Posted: May 17, 2019
As a facilitator of Anti Bully education in 29 public and private schools covering grades Pre –K through 12th grade, I am frequently asked about gossip. It seems that it is everywhere and in all walks of life. The examples change based on age, but it always comes back to speaking of others not present in an unflattering way. One of the stories I have shared many times over the years to help others understand the destructive power of rumors and gossip is the following. Keep this philosophy in mind the next time you hear or find yourself ready to repeat a something told to you.
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 Test of Three."
"Test of Three?"
"That's correct," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student, let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
"No," the man replied, "actually I just heard about it."
"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test 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 though because there is a third test - 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 and said no more.
This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.
Wishing you continued success as you navigate your way through to being your Personal Best.
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