True, Useful and Kind
December 2, 2005 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me source a bit of wisdom about advice and criticism.

A friend recently said something about offering advice or criticism: that before anyone does so they should ask themselves if it meets at least two of the following criteria: that it be useful, that it be true, and that it be kind. I had never heard this before and I am wondering where it comes from? He doesn’t know where he first heard it. Is it folk wisdom? Religious teaching? From a self help book? A parenting book? Any help?
posted by anglophiliated to Society & Culture (5 answers total)
This page has the full quote as

"Remember, before you repeat a story, ask yourself: is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary?? If not, do not repeat it. Keep quiet. Great minds discuss ideas....Average minds discuss events....Shallow minds discuss people....Which are you?"

and attributes it to Ann Landers.

I have a feeling that it one of those phrases that have been quoted and re-quoted so many times that there are a few different version kicking around.
posted by MarvinJ at 7:58 AM on December 2, 2005

Folk wisdom. I've heard it quoted on Holly Lisle's page as 'helpful, true, and kind.'
posted by Jeanne at 8:38 AM on December 2, 2005

I saw the "kind, useful, true" requirement in a book about Zen. Only it wasn't applied to criticism, but to anything at all that you say.

To that I would add: "or funny."
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:27 AM on December 2, 2005

Sounds like a half-remembered Rotary Four-Way Test

"Of the things we think, say or do:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"

Its author is Herbert J. Taylor.

The latter part may be an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, but I don't trust online attributions much.
posted by dhartung at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the help everyone.
posted by anglophiliated at 12:28 AM on December 6, 2005

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