Posts Tagged ‘socrates three filters’

Honor Before Honesty Every Time

Words do matter.  Take for example the words honor and honesty.  Which word appeals to you more than the other?

For me, honor is a far stronger word both emotionally and intellectually.  Honesty, beyond being overused like many other words in society, has less emotional intelligence and less intellectual depth.

In a recent conversation with a colleague, he suggested the word honesty is a better word than honor.  My response was honesty is much like being efficient, doing things right.  Honor is more akin to being effective, doing the right thing.  To be honorable always suggests one is honest. However being honest does not mean one is always honorable.

The difference can also be explain through the actions of public officials.  Yes in many instances they are following the law, being efficient and therefore being honest in the application of the law. Unfortunately following the law is not always effective and hence does not always reflect honor.

Locally here the county officials wanted to make up budget shortfalls and one of the suggestions was to consider closing the rural libraries.  Possibly this action was honest yet with high illiteracy rates and a workforce lacking many necessary reading and writing skills, this proposed action was not filled with honor.

Yes there is a distinct line between honor and honesty. Many cross that line every day without even thinking.

I am reminded of Socrates Three Filters when it comes to the difference between these words.

  1. Is what you say kind?
  2. Is what you say truthful?
  3. Is what you say necessary?

For it is that third filter where honor and honesty may clash.  We can speak honest words, but are those words truly necessary?  Are they honorable?

When we invest the time to think about the words we think, speak and write, we can change our results for the better. Possibly you may have never considered the differences between honor and honesty. Now with a potential different perspective and even some additional clarity, you may begin to reflect not only upon these words, but others as well.

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A Sales Maxim To Be Held True

What sales maxim do you hold to be most true?  This past week I had the opportunity to personally witness how the violation of this code of sales behavior turned me away from one vendor to another. Let me explain.

sales-maximAs we have just relocated from 1/3 acre home with no fence to two acres totally fenced, we decided it was time to find a dog. Our new home is out in the country where there are plenty of coyotes.

Believing in adopting a rescued dog from the local animal shelter, I stopped by and looked at the available dogs.  The executive director told me there were a couple of 3 month old puppies at a national pet chain store. This national pet chain store works with local human societies and allows them space to showcase dogs and cats for adoption.

So I decided to stop by and saw a puppy that appeared to met our breed and size criteria. I went to the car to call my husband to see if he approved and was met by another human society just outside of the store.  Their puppies were an acceptable breed  and I was almost ready to pick one up when one volunteer said “We are the better human society.” I smiled and continued to my car where I called my husband.  He said “It’s up to you” and I went back in and adopted the 3 month old puppy.

Years ago my father shared this sales maxim with me “Never, never knock the competition, no matter what you know.” Dad went on to explain his reasoning with “By engaging in this sales behavior, you as a salesperson will begin to establish distrust and turn potential customers or clients away.”

Then I had the opportunity to visit a local veterinarian as one of the technicians had a dog kennel for sale.  I asked her what made this clinic different?  She responded very positively with “All our vets are men and we spend more time with each patient.”  We then talked a little more about a vaccine against rattlesnake bite and she presented me with a card for a free visit.  What this wise lady did was to be positive and not knock the competition.  She earned my first visit.

Knocking the competition is a dangerous behavior and one that should be avoided at all costs. Let others fail to heed this sales maxim as plenty do.  Be above the fray.  Remember the Socrates Three Filters if you are ever in a discussion about your competitors:

  1. Is what you say kind?
  2. Is what you say truthful?
  3. Is what you say necessary?


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Don’t Look Now Your Real Leadership Ethics Are Showing

Funny how a simple action can reveal the real leadership ethics of an individual. Let me explain.



Earlier this week a colleague received a completely unfair review of his book on Amazon. This anonymous reviewer (presuming to be a sales professional and probably sales trainer) focused on one sentence in this 240 page excellent book.

The reason for this focus was because the nameless reviewer believed one sentence plagiarized the intellectual capital of another published author. This other author had also sold his or her own sales training system.

Several people who knew the author responded and the reviewer acknowledged those responses. However in his or her acknowledgement, he or she attempted to still justify focusing on just one sentence while ignoring the other hundreds of sentences. Additionally, this person never addressed being challenged about hiding behind a pseudonym.

What the reviewer failed to recognize was how his or her review showcased his or  her lack of leadership ethics by attempting to demean another sales professional out of jealousy not out of ethical concerns.

Many of us have experienced professional jealousy along the way. Our personal leadership ethics including integrity have been challenged or attacked because someone didn’t like what we said.

Years ago I was challenged by another leadership coach who believed because I was not certified by some organization I was not a legitimate executive coach. Even though I told her the results my clients achieve is my certification, she insisted I was being unethical in calling myself a coach.

Read How Certification Does Guarantee Ethical Leadership

For me to stay true to my leadership ethics, I am consciously aware of Socrates Three Filters.

  • Is what you say kind?
  • Is what you say truthful?
  • Is what you say necessary?

For example in writing this blog, I did not name the persons involved because to take that action would not be kind nor necessary.

What we may always wish to consider is others can see our real leadership ethics in our behaviors. Using Socrates Three Filters may help us stay the course in our day to day ethical behaviors.

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The Sales Challenge of Living by Socrates’ Three Filters

Socrates as many know was a Greek philosopher. He created the Socratic Dialog which many in sales find very effective during exploring sales meetings and fact finding sessions. Socrates also developed the Three Filters which is just as important. However living by these three filters does present an ongoing sales challenge.

sales-challengeIf you are not familiar with the Three Filters, they are all about how you communicate with others as well as reinforce your own business ethics and emotional intelligence.

Is What you Say Kind?

We know words can hurt people feelings and create an atmosphere ranging from hostility to resentment. In sales especially when we are out and about, remembering to be kind in our remarks is essential. Kindness reflects emotional intelligence.

Is What You Say Truthful?

When speaking with others or even making comments, is what you say truthful.  This filter returns to the human nature of gossiping or even not validating what has been said.  Additionally by applying emotional intelligence we can be truthful without being judgmental.  Some people view telling the truth as being judgmental as “You should not say that.”

Is What you Say Necessary?

Probably for many, myself included, this third filter is the most challenging.  How many times do we speak too much during a sales conversation instead of actively listening?

We all enjoy getting our two cents in whether it is a professional or personal conversation. Here is where our ego sometimes takes over.

Socrates Three Filters is one sales challenge we confront every day.  Living consistently by these three filters is not easy.

Yesterday I had remembered Socrates wise words when being confronted by a very rude commuter passenger. Instead of engaging in non-productive conversation, I removed myself to another seat. This particular individual was 100% clueless about professional etiquette. She believed a particular train seat had her name on it along with her two companions.

In this world of people meeting people because people buy from people, one never knows who is watching.  By understanding the depth of this particular sales challenge can only strengthen one’s professional and personal business ethics, emotional intelligence and ultimately sustainable business growth.

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Where Are the Honesty and Truth in Sales Leadership?

Yesterday in talking with a former client and now a strategic partner, he lamented how honesty and truth are in short supply when it comes to sales leadership. Small business to Fortune 500 organizations be them profit or not for profit appear to circumvent the truth when it comes to finalizing sales.

What matters more is the ability to gain something at

the expense of someone or something.

honesty and truth

Over the years this client and I have had a very forthcoming professional relationship.  I shared with him that much of his problems were because his business decisions were reactive instead of proactive.  Additionally, I did not promise him the world nor did I sugar coat the realities involved in changing his sales leadership style. The end result is our professional relationship continues to flourish because he appreciated my honesty and truth.

Then during a mastermind group with three other small business owners, one of the members shared how a former customer called up for a price.  This customer shared what the competition was charging ($450). As this customer was a not for profit, my mastermind colleague adjusted his price and was  lower by $125 than the shared price.  He also did 2 hours of preliminary, non-billable work.  The customer called back and told him she gave the order to the competition.  His experience is one shared by many small business owners who become the price adjusters for the competition.

Where is the honesty and truth in sales leadership?

This past week I received an email from a complete stranger regarding some leadership, communication and team building for a US firm. She was doing research for her husband.  From the information shared I was able to do some additional research and determined the potential client.  As I had just successfully earned a similar contract I was able to quickly send a statement of work. (Thank heavens for cut and paste). Normally I do not respond to such “send me your prices” inquiries, but this time I took a chance because I listened to my intuitive sense and I remembered “never cut off your nose to despite your face.”

My most recent corporate training sale was earned because of my honesty and truth.The client wanted a four hour leadership retreat for the executive team followed by an 8 hour workshop the next day for his entire team. I told him I could do what he wanted but suggested for a more sustainable outcome that he may wish to consider having a second meeting with his executive team after the 4 hour leadership retreat and then to break the one day leadership, communication and team building into 2 – four hour engagements with at least a week between them. This type of scheduling allows for better retention; the opportunity for application and feedback and works to address the real problem lack of trust.  He listened to my suggestions and quickly came to agree this was better.

My professional business ethics are honesty and truth.

They must start with me whether I am the vendor or the customer.

This personal tenet has been with me my entire life.

And yes I have lost sales because I believe in respectfully identifying the “naked emperor” and will not offer solutions that do not address the real problem.  So many in the executive coaching and professional services consulting industries prefer to solve symptoms that only later reappear because the true problem causing the symptoms was never identified nor properly addressed.

Despite what we hear about the US economy, there are still many small businesses to even Fortune 1000 firms who are desperate to increase sales especially in this final fourth quarter. Honesty and truth are sacrificed by those in sales leadership roles.

For me, I have been guided by Socrates Three Filters when it comes to honesty and truth. And I leave you with those to potentially guide you in your sales leadership roles:

#1 – Is what you say or do kind?

#2 – Is what you say or do truthful?

#3 – Is what you say or do necessary?

Please feel free to share your experiences when it comes to how you deal with honesty and truth in your sales leadership role.

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Let Socrates Three Filters Spur Your Small Business Growth

Are you making your small business growth harder than it could be? Maybe you may wish to consider Socrates Three Filters as a small business growth behavior.

socrates-three-filtersSocrates as many know was a Greek philosopher. He was the originator of the Socratic dialogue that works especially well in relationship selling.  Behind this structured conversation, Socrates applied these three filters to his response and in doing so grew himself and others. Even though Socrates only used the word “say,” I have discovered that these filters also work very well with think and write. I will be forthcoming in that thinking continues to be my Achilles’ heel. Sometimes my thinking violates all two or all  three rules.  The good news is for the most part I still adhere to the saying and writing.

First of Socrates Three Filters – Is What You Say (Think or Write) Kind?

How you respond to others is crucial especially during times of high stress or high velocity. This is also very true in our social media world where the fingers type and send before the brain actually engages. Today many would describe this first filter as the talent of diplomacy or the application of emotional intelligence.

When we as small business professionals recognize the feelings of others; understand those feelings; recognize our own feelings; understand our own feelings and then manage the dynamics between the feelings of others and ourselves, we are said to be emotionally intelligent. Unfortunately for some the emotions take over and reactive behaviors quickly ensue.

Additionally the word kind indirectly implies without judgment.  We may think we are being kind, but the words we chose to speak may be suggesting judgment.  To be truly kind requires removing words like “you need,” “you should,” etc.

Second of Socrates Three Filters -Is What You Say (Think or Write) Truthful?

The truth can be hurtful and mean especially when it is not true.  Are you sure of what you are saying or even writing?  Most of us have heard the tirade by Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men where he shouts “You can’t handle the truth.”  Be sure what you are speaking is the truth and not supposition or worse yet gossip.

Third of Socrates Three Filters – Is What You Say (Think or Write) Necessary?

For me that has always been the deciding factor when responding.  Sure sometimes I want to say exactly what I am feeling to get it off my chest. However I have learned that if I want the desired result of small business growth, I do need to temper my responses. Once again my emotional intelligence is at work. Over time I have increased this capacity. This increase has also increased my small business growth.

What has helped for me is the use of the 3 Spheres of Control.  If I am responding be it saying, thinking or writing  to something beyond  my control, I just stop.  I know I cannot change it.  In many instances this is where I may say or write, “we agree to disagree.” I know no amount of words will change a person’s behavior.  What I must do is to find another approach if the other person is part of any current business growth strategy.

Socrates Three Filters can increase sales and improve your small business growth. Yes, it does take time to begin to master them and this mastery is an ongoing process because human beings are emotional creatures first and intellectual creates second if not third.

Download the SPHERE-OF-CONTROL-LHS without having to give me your name, your contact information.  Then let me know if it makes sense and how you applied it to your own small business growth.

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Business Networking Built On Trust Allows You to Ask and Answer Uncomfortable Questions

In the global to local marketplaces, business to business networking continually happens. Relationships take root, grow and develop strong feelings of trust. Sometimes the development of this trust happens over an extended period of time and sometimes during a first time meeting. Those business relationships built on trust provide the opportunity to ask confidentially those uncomfortable questions.

Today I was asked about several different individuals that I knew. The person asking had met these small business owners and had some personal angst to even Red Flags of Distrust waving in the air. He wanted to make sure “his gut brain” was working Okay and that he was not missing something.  Also, he did not want to appear to be gossiping, but he was relatively new to the small business world and wanted to ensure he was moving forward in the right direction.

This was not the first time I have been asked these somewhat uncomfortable questions nor will it I expect be the last time.

The purpose of networking is to create “mutually beneficial relationships” as Lillian Bjorseth writes in her book Breakthrough Networking. Sales Coaching Tip:  If you do not have this book in your library, I do recommend it.

Mutually beneficial is not just about how to increase sales, but to be able to reach out and ask questions, to bounce marketing ideas or just best practices. Sometimes asking to answering those questions can carry an “uncomfortability factor” especially when it boils down to business ethics.

How often have you been asked something like:

What do you think about so and so?

When answering this question I keep Socrates Three Filters in mind as well as my own positive business ethics and core values. To not answer this or other uncomfortable questions asked in confidence is just as wrong as it is to answer with maliciousness.

Usually the person asking will provide me some additional rationale for this question.  If not, I usually will respond with “Why do you ask?”

Depending upon my knowledge I will respond with what I personally believe and know to be true based upon my own experiences. In some cases, my initial first impression has changed because subsequent second, third and fourth impressions have shown another side to the person’s business ethics and subsequent behaviors.

People change over time. These changes can be small and over time dramatically may alter the individual. For example, some small business owners begin with strong business networking relationships then they become mildly successful and forget those initial business relationships. Behaviors have changed from being mutually beneficial to being “it’s all about me.” This one way street may give some people pause for concern.

The challenge when asking or responding to these uncomfortable questions is not to gossip, but to examine the actual observed behaviors and share from that perspective.  Remember the person asking is someone they trust. He or she is seeking some validation. Your response can be as simple as “I would not recommend him or her today.”

What I have found to be quite effective is to state “If your gut is sending you up a red flag, then continue to validate that concern until you believe you have secured enough information to make an informed decision.” Business to business networking is built on trust and within that trust is an obligation to be authentic when answering those uncomfortable questions.

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How to Increase Sales Tips & Snippets #19 – Three Filters for Social Media

Years ago one of my now dearest friends and colleagues, Laura Novakowski, shared with me something she learned from one of her mentors who had shared Socrates’ three filters. With the explosion of social media specific to marketing and to increase sales, maybe now is the time for others to employ this increase sales strategy and tactic.

Socrates’ three filters are pretty straight forward when it comes to communication:

1. Is what you say or write kind?’

2. Is what you say or write truthful?

3. Is what you say or write necessary?

This past week I have been engaged in several online discussions over at Google Plus, Facebook and LinkedIn. In a couple of these discussions, there was an opportunity to view the responses as condescending to almost belligerent.

Now in the past, I might have reacted differently. However by keeping Socrates’ three filters in the front of my conscious thoughts I replied respectfully.  What is interesting to note, I receive a couple of private emails who commented on my restraint. For the goal of social media is multiple in that you want to build:

  • Influence
  • Credibility
  • Expertise
  • Brand recognition
  • Qualified sales leads

Being negative even it is executed nicely probably will not help you achieve any of these business goals.

As to Socrates’ three filters, my sense is Socrates probably had a high emotional intelligence quotient because he understood the necessity for recognizing the emotions of others and then using those emotions for positive or forward action motivation.  Many of us can learn from his example.

Sales Cartoon


Sales Quotation

“Without action and accountability, dreams simply remain unfulfilled potential.”

William Butler Yeats

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Program Evaluations Are Personal and Business Ethics in Action

Yesterday I attended a local program on government ethics. Now some may think this is an oxymoron.  The discussion ranged from the corrupt behaviors of elected officials to how the lack of ethics in government affect small business owners and their business ethics.


At the end of the presentation, the 150 or so in attendance were asked to complete the program evaluation.  As standard practice, the evaluation lacked an area for name of the person doing the critique.

My belief is signing my name to any program evaluation is ethics in action.  The veil of anonymity is for those who cannot provide forthcoming evaluations while still remaining civil and respectful.

Maybe some believe there will be repercussions from signing their name.  And in probably some cases that belief is justified.  However if an individual is not willing to stand up for what he or she believes to be true, then what does that say or imply about their personal values or business ethics?

As my grandmother and many others have said “If you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all.” Additionally, by remembering Socrates’ Three Filters, anyone should be able to sign their name and share their thoughts respective to how they evaluated the program.

P.S. Socrates’ Three Filters was probably one of the earliest demonstrations of emotional intelligence (EQ). Until 3/25/11, I have the opportunity to offer complete free a $150 emotional intelligence assessment using an Internet platform with results mailed within 24 hours. Please contact me if you are interested – coach at processspecialist dot com

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How Tight Shorts Impede Communications

Years ago, this was my standard reply when people asked me my opinion:

Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies.

Courtesy of

The older I become the more I realize how much truth is within this statement.  In this age of social media and the ability to exchange information, there are many individuals (senders of communication) who truly have, as my husband calls them, “tight shorts.”  These folks are quick to defend what they say and sometimes appear to be  quick to be insulted.  Their tight shorts do indeed impede communications and may harm future communications because a lack of trust has been injected into the communication process.

For example, someone will share new information.  He or she will ask a specific question, make some suppositions and then finalize his or her argument.  When someone responds to the specific question with a different perspective (not in agreement with the communicated information), it is like red lights start flashing and the robot from Lost in Space is yelling “danger, danger.”

Responses to any question are usually much better received when apply Socrates’ three filters:

  1. Is it kind?
  2. Is it truthful?
  3. Is it necessary?

In other words, disrespectful language is not employed so you do not begin your response, “Hey you dummy” nor do you use profanity.  The response is kind and may be laced with a little humor. The truth is, as you the responder believe it to be, based upon your own experience.  Finally it is necessary because the sender of the communication asked the question.

Informal learning (that being learning from others) has been documented as the best way to learn. Yet this is a two-way communication street. If you truly wish to share ideas, information and ask questions, then it may make sense to make sure you are open to the feedback or you may be hearing this response more often than not:

Ask me no questions; and I will tell you no lies.

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