Posts Tagged ‘TARES’

Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do

Friday, November 20th, 2009

By Kathleen Hosfeld

“Be the change we want to see in the world” is so often used, we have Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Dobecome somewhat immune to its message that it all starts with us. The place we make change most effectively is in our own lives.

As more of us seek to engage in creating economies and communities that work for all, it may be that hope associated with change isn’t enough to inspire us. We’re unclear about what changes are needed to create the world we want. The idea of change begs the issue of strategy. What will work? Which of the many issues I care about should I tackle first?

When such questions paralyze us into inaction, another approach is to move in the direction of what we love. What are we grateful for? What are we so grateful for that we want all to experience it?

The Sufi poet Rumi wrote about how the particular longings of the heart shape our life path. He  said “A rose opens because she is the fragrance she loves.” We grow toward the beauty that most inspires us. We unfold more of ourselves, become more truly ourselves, as we release more of what we love into the world.

Bringing this sentiment to the workplace, to our relationships with clients, customers and other stakeholders involves taking time to ask: “What are we inspired to become? What is our highest aspiration for our work? What joy do I want others to experience?”

It’s not a simple process to bring such thoughts into practical application, and integrate them into our daily lives. But it’s an important process for this time. It means to live a life of faith. Faith in what? Faith in love. In beauty. In hope. In the basic ability of human beings to  work together to create a world that works for all of us.

In another poem, Rumi invites us to “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Many of us recognize that each person has his or her own unique gifts to give the world. Our individual lives can be a continual exploration of those gifts over time.

So, too, can we as companies and organizations act in service of the beauty we collectively love, and bring it to flower in the world for the good of all. When offered in the spirit of gratitude and generosity, our actions can truly be the change we seek.


The line “The rose opens….” Is from the poem Every Tree, translated by Coleman Barks in the book The Glance, Songs of Soul-Meeting, published in 1999 by Penguin Books.

The line “Let the beauty we love…” is published in The Essential Rumi, also translated by Coleman Barks, 1997 HarperOne.


Want a reminder to keep this sentiment alive in your life? Get the “Let the Beauty We Love” mug and we’ll send $5 to to support entrepreneurs around the world through microfinance loans.

The Customer Is Not An Idiot: Empathy, Interconnection and the Ethics of Persuasion

Friday, August 31st, 2007

By Kathleen M. Hosfeld, President

Once a year or so, my mentor and former professor, Cliff Rowe, asks me to return to Pacific Lutheran University to speak to one of his classes about communication ethics. I sit in front of a classroom of about 20 students who have varying degrees of interest in how I apply ethics to my work. Most are polite. Some fall asleep.

In recent years, the students have started asking if I use the TARES test in my work. I always have to say I don’t, because I didn’t learn the TARES test, which was published in 2001, when I was in school. But, in fact, the philosophy of the TARES test is reflected in everything we do at Hosfeld & Associates.

What is the TARES test? It’s a five-point test for what the authors call “ethical persuasion.” Published by Sherry Baker, a professor at Brigham Young University, and David L Martinson, of Florida International University, the TARES test seeks to establish robust principles for ethics in action and to support the creation of a more ethical approach to persuasion – particularly commercial persuasion such as takes place in the marketing process.

The TARES test consists of five principles: Truthfulness (of the message), Authenticity (of the persuader), Respect (for the persuadee), Equity (of the persuasive appeal) and Social Responsibility (for the common good). The authors offer checklists of questions for each of the five principles that help the practitioner explore their implications:

Truthfulness examples:

  • Is this communication factually accurate and true..? Does it lead people to believe what I myself do not believe?
  • Has this appeal downplayed relevant evidence?

Authenticity examples:

  • Does this action compromise my integrity?
  • Do I feel good about being involved in this action?
  • Do I truly think and believe that the persuadees will benefit…?

Respect examples:

  • Is the persuasive appeal made to persuadees as rational, self-determining human beings?
  • Does this action promote raw self-interest at the unfair expense of or to the detriment of persuadees?
  • Am I doing to others what I would not want done to me or to people I care about?
  • Do the receivers of the message know that they are being persuaded rather than informed?

Social Responsibility examples:

  • Does this action take responsibility to promote and create the kind of world and society in which persuaders themselves would like to live with their families and loved ones?
  • Have I unfairly stereotyped constituent groups of society in this promotion/communications campaign?

There are many facets of the TARES test worth exploring. One of the first that strikes me is that ethical persuasion begins with the realization that our choices create the world we ourselves live in. This is not a new insight; it’s been part of mainstream marketing thinking for a while. One of my first positions in marketing communications was with an Ogilvy & Mather division where I was introduced to the philosophy of advertising pioneer David Ogilvy. A prolific author, Ogilvy once wrote in a treatise to young advertising executives: “The customer is not an idiot; she is your wife.”

I was startled the first time I read it. It took a moment to sink in. Ogilvy was speaking at the time when most of the industry was populated by white males. We can pardon him some 1960s sexism because he got the basic idea right. He may have gone on to say “Or your mother, or your daughter.” He was trying to tap the innate empathy we have for people we love, for whom we want the world to be a good, safe and equitable place. He was trying to make the connection between what we do as persuaders and how that affects the world.

The TARES test is described as five principles of ethical persuasion. It’s been my experience that discussions of ethics and what is ethical can be interpreted from the perspective of compliance. We set ethical codes in order to define the minimum standard of acceptable behavior. One of the things I like about the TARES test is that it flips this into a creative discussion. Instead of setting a minimum standard it sets one of the highest possible. It asks the questions: “What kind of world do I want to create for myself and people I care about? How can my marketing choices help create that world?”

So, consider the TARES test and how it applies to your advertising, sales materials, media relations – in short, all marketing speech. Let it spark your imagination as to the kind of world you’d like to create with your work. To learn more, you can order the original scholarly paper (an easy read that includes all the questions), from Lauren Erhlbaum Associates Online: Title: The TARES Test: Five Principles for Ethical Persuasion.