Socrates, one of the most well-known philosophers of all time, gave us the idea of the “three filters of communication.” These are filters we can apply to what we want to say or publish. The first filter concerns truth: Are we really sure that what we are reading or saying is the truth or just a mere opinion? In most cases, what we hear from others is an opinion, so we must ask her/him: Is it true what you are saying? And if it is, how do you know it’s the truth? We should ask about everything we hear and know because we often easily take as true everything we hear others say.

 

The second pertains to the value filter: Is what we are reading or publishing something positive? Is what you are saying of value or just small talk? Most of the times, we are running in an auto-pilot mental process, which means that we do not “sit and think” if something we say is important to the conversation or the person we are in disagreement with.

The same thing happens when we hear some information. Ask yourself if what the other is saying is of value for you or for her/him. If not, why do you have to spend your most precious asset – Time – for an insignificant conversation?

The third filter is the “good information” filter: A “No” to even one of these filters is all it takes to make us aware that we should seriously not share the information or publish it. In general, we notice that people tend to share with others information that is more negative or “bad” rather than positive or “good.” Stop for a moment and reflect: “Is what I just read a fact or just a personal opinion?”

This criterion can also be used as a basis when communicating within the family and within your circle of friends and relatives. Applying these filters are beneficial to everyone concerned. Ascertaining the veracity of an issue should always be the first order. Let us not allow information out in the open when there is an iota of doubt on any of the three filters.

This will save us from useless arguments. Even if what we have to say is true, useful and necessary, but if we cannot express it in a kind and constructive manner, then it is all for naught. Always remember to stick to the issue or the act and not focus on a person or group of persons so as to avoid making judgments.

When can we apply the three filters in our communicative processes, to become more aware of the types of information we share with others, and also start to question, “Is what I heard true?” or “How sure am I that this is true?” or “How can I know for sure that this is true?” etc.

In the beginning, the people whom we talked with began to experience arduous situations because it is very tricky to discern if something we say is totally true or false. We usually base our opinions and arguments on what we hear from others, from the media, social networks, etc., without questioning the source of information.

It is true: “A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest.” If everyone applies these filters in communicating, we can generate a positive and healthy exchange instead of the hateful accusations that are going around today. This will open hearts and minds to sober and mature dialogue that will be mutually beneficial to everyone concerned. And it will be a better world.

Lucia and Massimo Massimino, Ernesto Chio and Jenni Bulan
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