Listening is the greatest gift you can give. Listening takes time, patience, and courage. Advice tends to be easy, quick, cheap and wrong.
Listening means: >Giving full attention >Not interrupting >Not rushing judgment or condemnation >Taming your own inner fears about what is being said. >Using empathy statements: I am sorry that happened... I bet that hurt... Sounds like that was difficult...
Other Ideas for Helping a Friend:
Don't say, "I know exactly how you feel" cause you don't, you are not in their shoes. No two situations no matter how similar are the same.
You don't have to have all the answers, avoid fixing, and you don't need fancy words. Be yourself and just be present.
Sometimes your friend may need more help, say, "Will you go with me to see so and so (parent, teacher, counselor, pastor, etc...) " or "Will you let me help you make an appointment with ?" If you suspect, or someone talks of suicide or self-destructive behaviors, do not keep it a secret. Tell adults that can help. Secrets kill. Focus on solutions to problems and suggest that better alternatives can be found. Also, Offer hope of any kind. Demonstrate care by sending a note, card, text message, hug, etc... Actions speak louder than words. Sometimes it is good just to be together doing something, like playing a board game, window shopping, shooting baskets, renting movies, going for a walk, etc. Remember, laughter is healing.
 Empathy - understanding the feelings of another person. Having compassion. Feeling as they would. Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone.