I heard this saying a few years back, and after that tried not to be a small minded person by avoiding talking about people generally, especially in one's absence. I cannot say one can really follow it all the time, but one can try. Here goes the saying:
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said,
"Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"
"Hold on a minute," Socrates replied.
"Before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test.
Its called the Triple filter Test."
"that's right," Socrates continued.
"Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea
to take a moment and filter what you're going to say.
That's why I call it the triple filter test.
The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that
what you are about to tell me is true?"
"No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it and..."
"Alright," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if its true or not.
Now let's try the second filter, the filter of goodness.
Is what you are going to tell me about my friend, something good?"
"No, on the contrary....."
"So", Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something bad
about him, but you're not certain if its true.
You may still pass the test though,
because there's one filter left: the filter of usefulness.
Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"
"No, not really...."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"
(This little article was published in The Speaking Tree, a spiritual magazine of Times of India, on 08 Aug 2010. I really wanted it on my blog. I could not find it on e-paper, but I am reproducing it.)
A Restless Mind With
A Sensitive Heart
PS: added an image and changed the title later.