It is really not a good idea to encourage your friends to complain about things to you. There is no value in assisting anyone to describe, in detail, their unhappy experiences.
SO TRUE! I know I sure need this one today! I notice that I can be this way myself if I get sucked into that old fear vortex, possibly from being too tired & sore from my landscape work or hearing negativities from others in the day...
When we offer an ear to a friend or family member or anybody for that matter, we are empowering the fear. We've been trained by society, church & others we need to carry our brothers burdens, be compassionate & to try to fix people, but it's not quite true. It's wonderful to help them, but it's not helping to empower that fear to continue. Whatever you focus on expands- that's Universal Law so one cannot simply wish it were not so. It's no good to go out on this ice yourself to pull another out of danger, it's far better to toss them a lifeline from a secure position on safe ground. In other works, holding onto your light at all times is key. Be constructive/proactive working on the solution rather than lingering on the problem & story which always seeks to blame, cast doubts, enable more fears- nothing good comes of it whatsoever. And by the way, when you have been exposed to negative people it is always highly advisable to clear yourself afterwards -release all lower energies with Archangel Michael's help or a Mother Earth meditation for example. (several videos on this site- ex. Jill Michelle Mother Earth)
Here' a suggestion. Suggest to your friend that you are willing to assist them with the solution but not in rehashing the story line, complaints or negativity. We tend to feel it is our duty to hear their drawn out negative story as if we are helping- often we're afraid of offending the other by cutting off their story. I hear the angel guidance regularly, not to worry about upsetting another's feelings in such a case- it is after all their ego that would take offence & not their higher self which would appreciate the love.
There's another spin off that happens when we don't empower the continuance to the negative storyline, & that is that we will be teaching/learning this ourselves as we teach another & become expanded in our awareness of such negative pitfalls . All the while we'll be holding more ight ourselves & your being will radiate this light helping ALL
I hope this helps. Remember, we're all in this together - when you hold your light all benefit!