The story of Socrates and the three sieves


One day a man runs up to Socrates and said: “I have to tell you something about your friend who…”

“Hold up” Socrates interrupts him “About the story you’re about to tell me, did you put it trough the three sieves?”

The man was not familiar with the three sieves, so Socrates continued: “The first is the sieve of Truth. Are you sure that what you are going to tell me is true?”

“To tell the truth”, said the man, “no, I just overheard it”.

“What about the sieve of Goodness. Will you tell me something good or positive about this man?”

The man shook his head.

“Now, what about the last sieve. Is it necessary to tell me what you’re so excited about?”

When the man bowed his head in shame, Socrates smiled and said “Well, if the story you’re about to tell me is neither true, good or necessary, just forget it and don’t bother me with it.”

The story about the three sieves is something we can apply to our lives. Before you tell a story or pass on a rumour, ask yourself whether it is true, kind or necessary. Often we pass on gossip we’ve heard to keep the conversation going or talk negatively about somebody we know. Why not focus on “uptalking” others, concentrating on their strengths?