I’d like to share here some of the things I have learned about counseling distraught souls.
1) Nod a lot. Stroking your chin is good. Act like you are listening. Occasionally grunt, as if in surprise.
2) If they ask you a question, don’t worry. Just go: "Weeelll…" and then wait. They usually will just start talking again.
3) If you find yourself getting bored, pass the time by thinking of everything that is funny about their problems.
4) Playing air guitar sometimes is good too. It makes them think you are using the musical side of your brain to consider their problems. Whistling, humming or going: "Brawmp Brawmp Brawmp! Brawm brawmp brawmpeer!" is the next level.
5) If you find yourself thinking stuff like: "What an idiot. This is all your fault anyway" it’s okay to say it, but it will soften the blow if you say it in a funny voice. Star Wars Characters like Yoda and Darth Vader are usually easy voices to do. "An idiot you are. All your fault this is!" Chewbacca is another good one.
6) If they start to cry at any point, just repeat back to them whatever they said last only in an even more whiney, about-to-cry type of voice than they used, to show that you understand.
7) Try to make their problems seem like not such a big deal. Remind them that probably nobody but themselves even cares about this stuff anyway, so might as well let it go.
8) Be a stickler about proper grammar. If some one says ain’t or uses a double negative, or an incomplete sentence, point it out right away. People in distress need to look at their problems objectively, and nothing helps lend the right perspective like proper grammar. I like to carry a pocket grammatical text with me so I have proof in case a disagreement arises about what proper grammar really is in this instance.
9) If you have ever had a similar situation, or even heard of someone else with a similar situation, be sure and let them know all about it. Only exaggerate so that their problem will seem less bad. "Oh that’s nothing…" -a good opening line.
10) If you feel like you get the point, only they keep talking, just yawn, clear your throat and look pointedly at your watch.
11) if you get really bored interrupt and tell them about a funny video you just saw on you-tube. It breaks the tension. For instance:
12) Be sure to bring a book along just in case.
13) Often throwing water in their face or slapping them relieves hysteria.
I welcome these confidences of course.