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The Three Filters Applied By Socrates In Communication

Written by: Anila Bashllari, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Casually, I was watching a video talking about Socrates' three filters and thought I'd write something about it, which can help you in your daily communication. When Socrates was asked: "Do you know what people think of you?", He listened attentively to the end (it is said that Socrates carefully applied the method of active listening) and answered: "I always use three filters when I listen or say something to others."

cartoon drawing people communicating

I must remind you that Socrates, one of the most brilliant philosophers of all time, left a precious legacy to the world for wisdom during his lifetime, a legacy that has been fanatically passed on for 2000 years across societies and continents. I do think it's worth going back to the constellation of wisdom from time to learn what has been said and how we can apply it today.

Whenever Socrates communicated with others (talked or listened to what was said) he used three filters:

1. The Truth Filter ‒ What you are saying/hearing is the truth or just an opinion?

If someone tells you something that is probably an opinion, ask: "Is what you are saying the truth? And how do you know this is true? Buddha suggested that we should ask questions about everything because we often take as true everything we hear others say.

2. The Value Filter ‒ Whether what you want to say is worth saying or just for conversation.

Most of the time we are on auto-pilot mental processes, which means that we do not “sit and think” if something that we say is valuable to the conversation or to the person we are discussing with. The same thing happens when we hear information. Ask the other person if what he will tell you has value for you, but also for him. If not, why spend the most precious asset – TIME – on something that has no value?

3. The “Good Information” Filter

What you can notice in general, or at least what I’ve noticed is that people tend to share with others more negative or “bad” rather than positive or “good” information.

Stop for a moment and reflect: “Is this what I just read a fact or just Anila’s personal opinion?”

Personally, I began to reflect on the three filters and started to apply them in my everyday communication. What I noticed is that I started to be more attentive to the information I shared with others, but also to ask the questions on what was told to me by asking: "Is this true?"; or “How sure are you that this is true?; or “How do you know for sure it's true? Etc, etc.

In the beginning, the interlocutors were put in difficulties because it is actually difficult to know how true something is, since the vast majority of the truth is based on what we hear from others, the media, social networks, etc., without caring to notice the source where the information comes from, the level of competence of those who share their opinions, etc.

I started using some expressions like:

  • I think that; my opinion is…

  • As far as I know; my experience has shown me...

  • According to several studies in this field...referring to studies of serious and well-known sources etc.

Which made the conversation more open and pleasant, avoiding misunderstandings or conflicts in communication.

I took care to evaluate whether the information I was going to share was valuable to the other person as well as whether it was "relevant" information. One could say that not always the information we have to share is good or relevant and that is true. But, in such cases, I use the two other filters to evaluate if the information is true and valuable to share.

The combined use of the filters can help you a lot. By using the three filters of Socrates, I started to feel good about myself and also about others... People need positivity, inspiration and motivation. Our contribution is important! If everyone will use the three filters, conversations will be more productive and communication more effective!

How true is this? I am sharing with you my personal experience and I don’t want you to take it for granted. Just try applying the three filters and see how they work for you. If yes, go ahead… If not, I'm sure you haven't applied them… Life is a process of self-discovery… That's its real meaning. That is why we feel happy when we manage to discover the essence of our existence.

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Anila Bashllari, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Anila Bashllari is an Executive and Business Coach on mindset enhancement, mental fitness and high performance. She coaches business leaders worldwide on Conscious Leader Framework, supporting them to live a holistic life, grows their business, become real manifestos of their dreams and vision, reconciles the conditioning patterns with true deep inside values through Inner and Outer Game. She has developed strategies how to enhance the mindset for creative thinking and achievement, feel resourceful, manage the inner energy to achieve a meaningful life and purposeful business and thrive during adversity times. Her mission is to create future leaders.



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