Socrates' Test of Three for Ensuring Information Accuracy

How often do you repeat something you heard from a “reliable source” that embarrassed you in the end? How many policies or decisions are made colored by an opinion that was heard but not verified? Do you have reliable filters to sift through information that is brought to you?

Acting on unfiltered information can be very dangerous for leaders and the risks are greater because of the accessibility of information.

The Socratic approach has become embedded into sales and other business interactions and is taught at esteemed business schools, with good reason.

Socrates had great insight into human interactions and effectiveness and he was able to simplify these to make them relevant and applicable to business interactions.

He used something he called The Test of Three to decide whether he would spend time listening to a tale being deemed important by a third party.

The first test is Truth. He would ask: Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?
Do you apply the test of truth when information is brought to you?

The second test is the test of Goodness. Socrates’ question: Is what you are about to tell me about the third person something good? Test whether the information will help or harm relationships.


The third test is the filter of Usefulness. The question to ask: Is what you want to tell me about going to be useful to me?

In this noisy age of instant information, not everything we hear is verified or verifiable truth. Each one of us has to decide what to react to and what is to be ignored whether we are considering relaying the information or when we are about to receive information. Filters could seem to be complex and difficult to establish.

Using the Test of Three can help leaders cut through a great deal of time-wasting hearsay and restore their focus to what really is important.

If you want to ensure your leaders are reliable, authentic and have character contact me for customized coaching that works.