There is a fine line between being a good listener and just simply butting in. Listening involves great self-discipline and may be difficult for one who is easily distracted by her own thoughts, opinions, and what she wants to say next. Listening involves being more concerned about others than the desire to make a good impression or seem experienced in the matter. Really listening takes the courage to sit there and make no attempt to solve the problem at hand or offer advice (even when asked).
Trying to fix people is an announcement that, "I know it all." And while it may be tempting to make suggestions on how to "fix" another's situation, it is best to lend a listening ear rather than a helping hand. It would be of more help to let the other person work with their own feelings, their own thoughts, their own words to come up with their own solutions. This is what will make them (whether they make the right or wrong decisions). stronger, wiser, and confident enough to take on the next problem that comes along. If they make a mistake, though it may be painful to watch, they will learn from their own mistakes.
The best we can offer others is the respect and compassion to hear their problems without the necessity of solving them. We can pray with them and lead them to the One who does have the answers. The ultimate question is how much do we trust God? Are we willing to lay down our need to fix things and trust God with it? Do we trust God with handling the situation better than we possible could? Do we trust God to work things out for good?
These are things I continually ask myself. Lord, increase my faith!