I know, we love the sound of our own voices, but once in a while, one of our friends will really need us just to listen. Sometimes the conversation might be a lot of give and take, advice and speculation, soul-searching and puzzle-solving, but sometimes you just need to be a giant ear for an hour. My husband says he can tell when I need to get my words out; he just lets me talk and talk and talk, while he inserts the occasional "Wow" and "Oh, I didn't know that" and "Really?" I've had conversations where I barely said two words and then received a thank-you the next day ("We had a great time together!"). Huh?
Experts in the human condition call this "active listening." You'll be most helpful if you can remain nonjudgmental (i.e., don't visualize your friend's troubles through your own—perhaps clogged—filters). Think of it as a little respite from our duty to pay a lot of attention to ourselves. Be supportive! The time will definitely come when you need it. Again and again.
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