Connect Through Empathy

George Stephanopoulos

Lesson time 09:23 min

George talks about how empathy helps him navigate challenging conversations during unexpected crises and on-air tragedies. Learn how sharing your personal story is a disarming technique that can allow for meaningful conversations.

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Topics include: Connect Through Empathy * Understanding Someone's Pain * Knowing When to Break the Wall * Use Personal Experiences


[UPBEAT MUSIC] INTERVIEWER: When you're talking to someone who's gone through a crisis or a tragedy, how much does empathy come into play? - It's all about empathy. When you're dealing with someone who's going a difficult situation, I mean, I think they're often looking to you to be in control, to help them through this moment. But being in control doesn't mean you have to be cold. Sometimes it means you have to reach out, whether it's with a touch or a look or the tone of your voice, in a way that communicates, I'm here with you. I'm sharing this story with you. I understand your pain. I know how difficult this is for you. But I also know you want to share that story. So take your time, slow down, and know that we're in this together. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (ON TV): Christine, your words are so powerful this morning. It's so clear your heart is breaking. And we're thinking of you. We are with you. And know that your words have been heard. Thank you very much. - Empathy is putting yourself in someone else's shoes, trying to feel what they're thinking and going through in those moments, trying to imagine yourself how you would handle that exact situation, and just being there for them. [UPBEAT MUSIC] Some of the most difficult situations I faced as a broadcaster, as an interviewer, is dealing with people who are dealing with trauma, whether they're the victims of a hurricane or the parents of someone who's been shot in a mass shooting or the survivors of the January 6 riots in the capital. And in all those cases, what you're trying to do is honor the person's need to share their story in that moment and to help them understand that you're there with them to help them share it and to react in a way that in some way reassures them, gives them some comfort in the face of unimaginable pain. This headline right here from the "Hartford Courant" captures what so many Americans are feeling today, "Our Hearts are Broken." All our hearts are broken-- over 20 little children, more adults, dead after the worst shooting ever at a grade school. I went to Newtown after the shooting. And I think that story hit me so hard. I mean, it hit everybody hard. It was one of the most horrific stories any of us ever had to cover. [GENTLE MUSIC] But I remember thinking all through the Newtown shooting that my little daughter, Harper, was exactly the age of those kids who were in the classroom during the shooting. And I remember hearing these stories of, the shooter aimed first at the kids who were trying to run away. And I know my daughter. And I know that she would have been one of those kids who immediately tried to bolt out of the room. And every time I thought about it, I got seized up. And I know that parents all across the country were connecting with the story in exactly the same way, just the thought that someone could coldly, without any thought, walk into a first grade classroom and open fire,...

About the Instructor

Legendary interviewer and broadcaster George Stephanopoulos has navigated challenging interviews for more than 30 years—as former White House communications director and presently as co-anchor of Good Morning America. Now he’s teaching you how to project confidence under pressure and draw the best value from your own professional and personal interactions, becoming a stronger, more intentional communicator.

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George Stephanopoulos

Award-winning interviewer George Stephanopoulos teaches you his techniques for producing authentic, meaningful conversations.

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