Referent Group

Marshall Goldsmith, in his book The Earned Life, writes that it took him decades to understand why otherwise intelligent people could hold values and believes that didn’t make sense to him:

If you know a person’s referent group—-to whom or what they feel deeply connected, whom they want to impress, whose respect they crave-—you can understand why they talk and think and behave the way they do. You don’t have to agree with them, but you are less likely to dismiss them as brainwashed or uninformed. At the same time, you realize that your views may appear equally incomprehensible to them. It made me more tolerant, almost empathic.

culture empathy referent groups Marshall Goldsmith tribes

Join my free newsletter and receive updates directly to your inbox.