Socrates vs. Buddha: Who Gave Us the Triple Filter Communication Test?

Feb 07, 2023

About 18 years ago I was working with a business development coach and we were discussing my communication strategies. He asked me if I had ever heard of the "Triple Filter Test."

I hadn't. So he explained.

It makes so much sense and I'm sorry I forgot about it and didn't bring it into my communication training and coaching, until today. 

So, this is new material for you.

The Triple Filter Test for communication is simply this:

1) Is it TRUE? 

2) Is it GOOD?

3) Is it HELPFUL?

The other day in looking for a topic for my blog and reviewing some old notes, I came across it again.

The question is how best to use these filters?

Does this mean your communication needs to pass all three filters to be given the green light?

I don' think so, but it must have at least one of the three elements.

For example, if you're trying to teach a lesson, maybe what you are going to share is an apocryphal story that would be untrue but has a moral to it that teaches a lesson.

It could even be a very painful, negative story that may not necessarily on the surface be 'good' to hear.

So, it is neither good nor true, but it is useful.

The same could be said if you are providing constructive feedback for someone on the job. It must be true and it must be useful even though it may not be 'good' to hear because it possibly refers to something bad or negative that the individual did or caused to have happen.

Before writing an article about this with no original source material I went on a Google hunt.

I found some interesting stories that intimated potential original sources.

One is from Socrates. A pretty credible source on life philosophy I think you would agree.

BUT being skeptical ever since reading that Abraham Lincoln once said, "don't trust everything you read on the internet," I thought I should dive deeper.

In doing the research, it is pretty clear that Socrates didn't come into the picture regarding this approach to communication until the 1930s, some 2300 years after his death.

The origin seems to point more directly to Buddha.

Regardless of who gets credit for it, it's a pretty good guideline for how to communicate, would you agree?