When being a sounding board for a friend who needs to vent, how should one respond?
My normal reaction is to offer possible solutions, or other advice. What about when such is unwelcome?
Saying I’m sorry isn’t really appropriate, since their predicament is not the result of anything that I did or didn’t do.
Commiserating or expressing empathy by sharing a similar experience from my past takes the focus off of the person who needs to vent, and is therefore unhelpful.
One can only say I know or That sucks so many times.
Smiling and nodding via digital communication is impossible. Not responding could be taken as ignoring or not paying attention.
So, how does one be a good, useful listener, and no do or say something that may actually make the situation worse?