Back in high school, I joined a group of students who were trained by psychologist to be good listeners. The school district had understood that sometimes kids don’t want to talk to an adult, but still need someone to listen to their trouble. In response they created a group of students who got trained in listening techniques and also on what to do if the person really needs adult intervention.
I am really happy to have been part of that. I still use the skill I learned back then.
Even thought it is normal to think about what you are going to say while the other person is talking, it’s not an effective listening technique.
Most people just need someone who will listen. They aren’t looking for someone to solve their issues. They just need to confide in someone and not be judge negatively.
If the person doesn’t want to talk, be in silence with them. Sometime, just having someone physically present can help.
Most important of all do your best to refrain from making the situation about you. It can be easy to pull from personal experience, but it doesn’t help the person. It is common to try to empathize by sharing a similar experience, but when the other person is deeply in pain, your experience actually takes the focus off them and puts it on you. They might even begin to think they should be supporting you. Instead of the other way around.