Drew Barrymore demonstrates empathic listening on her talk show. Here’s what we can learn from her
Drew Barrymore’s daytime talk show, ‘The Drew Barrymore Show,’ has been a huge success
Drew Barrymore has successfully transitioned from charming child actor to starring in films such as “50 First Dates” and “Ever After” to daytime talk show host on “The Drew Barrymore Show” — the CBS series was recently renewed for a fourth season. Fans of the show credit Barrymore’s success with her ability to listen with empathy.
Barrymore’s down-to-earth vibe and abundance of real-world experience gives her a relatability that other talk show hosts might lack. Her enthusiastic, sincere energy has even been compared to Oprah Winfrey.
“#DrewBarrymore is becoming the millennial #Oprah,” one fan tweeted. “She’s so encouraging, positive, wants people to share their story. It’s refreshing.”
“Drew Barrymore is such an incredible interviewer,” tweeted Claire Thomas, a director and former food show host. “She seems genuinely lovely/authentic/kind. In a way it’s like Oprah plus Graham Norton?”
Through opening up about her addiction at a young age, her recent colorless dating life and revealing embarrassing details from her personal life, Barrymore establishes a judgement-free zone that allows her interviewees to feel comfortable opening up and discussing delicate issues.
“Remarkable how Drew is facilitating so many open conversations that only ever happen behind closed doors, if at all,” another fan tweeted.
In addition to regularly revealing intimate details (such as how often she shaves her armpits), Barrymore displays body language that puts her interviewees at ease — making direct eye contact, kneeling on the floor by her guest or comfortably sitting crisscross on the couch.
During a recent interview with Chloe Bailey, the women related over insecurity and suffering from imposter syndrome. Bailey opened up as Barrymore knelt at Bailey’s chair and the pair took each other’s hands.
“We can all fall prey to our worst insecurities and demons,” Barrymore told Bailey. “I wonder sometimes if anyone could say anything worse than I say to myself ― I’m working on that.”
“I’m working on it, too!” Bailey responded emotionally, per HuffPost.
.@ChloeBailey opens up about having imposter syndrome and working to be kinder to herself. pic.twitter.com/RfPIPFmZd3— The Drew Barrymore Show (@DrewBarrymoreTV) April 12, 2023
Some viewers have poked fun at Barrymore’s ability to get intimate during chats with her celebrity guests through creating a safe space for them to open up — and “The Drew Barrymore Show” knows it stands out and has retweeted several Twitter jokes commenting on Barrymore’s unconventional hosting methods.
Not close enough. https://t.co/7U3aWRIl3F— The Drew Barrymore Show (@DrewBarrymoreTV) April 14, 2023
Drew Barrymore is an empathetic conversationalist
We can all learn something from Barrymore about putting people and ease and strengthening our conversation skills — incorporating empathy into how we interact with family, friends and even strangers.
According to the HuffPost, “Drew Barrymore is giving us a Master Class in empathetic listening.” But what exactly is empathetic listening?
According to Jodi Halpern, a psychiatrist and professor of bioethics at the University of California, Berkeley, empathy is two-pronged. There is the body-language side to empathy as well as the cognitive understanding side. Barrymore is skilled at both.
“My work calls this cognitive aspect ‘empathic curiosity’ because the goal is not just to merge with another person but to learn about their story, their distinct experience,” Halpern told the HuffPost.
“Her emotional resonance with Brooke (Shields) shows up in her face, nodding with an expression of shared pain,” Halpern added.
Barrymore does not shy away from delicate conversations. She pushes forward with empathy.
“When a friend is in pain or expresses vulnerability, it is not uncommon to notice an impulse to pull back or look away,” Elisabeth LaMotte, a therapist and the founder of the DC Counseling & Psychotherapy Center, told HuffPost. “Drew leans in during the intense moments with immersive facial expressions and sustained eye contact.”
How to be a more empathetic conversationalist
Becoming an empathetic conversationalist requires active listening.
“In empathetic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel,” Stephen R. Covey shared in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
Some ways to actively listen are: freeing yourself from distractions (such as a cellphone), listening without judgement, waiting your turn to speak, refrain from giving advice unless you are asked and creating a comfortable space to chat.
Making an emotional connection with another may also require some vulnerability on your end — Barrymore is a master at this — you share, I share too.
But as you share with your friend, remember not to dominate the conversation to try to one-up them with your own trials.
“You see (Barrymore) revealing that she is fragile, confused, delicate and human,” Carder Stout, a Los Angeles-area psychotherapist, told HuffPost. “She meets her guests where they are: This is her true talent.”