Turn that Filter On

Kind people know all about filtering their thoughts. They understand that being “themselves” is a threat they must take pains to spare everyone else from experiencing—especially anyone they care about.—from The School of Life Kindness Prompt Cards

I hear a lot these days about “being ourselves,” about authenticity. We’re living in an era of divulgence. The more unfiltered we are, the more “real” we are. When I work with individuals and organizations to clarify their core values, “Authenticity” is often one of them.

But “Kindness” and “Connection” should show up, too. The quote above reminds me that sometimes one value has to take precedence over another. If being authentic means being unfiltered, we’re liable to put our other values in jeopardy and damage relationships. In coaching leaders and managers, it’s obvious to me that the biggest reason someone gets fired or managed out of a job is because of their inability to manage relationships well. That can have a range of symptoms, but not knowing how to filter their thoughts ranks at the top.

You’ve probably seen the aphorism, “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” This is easy to rattle off, but pretty hard to practice. If I apply this criteria to myself, I find I’m often speaking to be right, to be smart, to add too much value, to take airtime, establish myself as a little more superior or insightful than someone else. Filtering requires more time, more intention. Maybe enough that someone else will be prompted to speak up, and we will all be better for it!

In my work with clients and my interactions with my family today, I plan to repeat the mantra, “Kind people know all about filtering their thoughts.” Certainly, more kindness in our spheres wouldn’t hurt.