This is a pattern I like to call "validate or calibrate". When you're not sure about a feeling you have, especially about something sensitive such as toxic workplace politics, a particularly damaging manager, or anything generally outside of your control that negatively impacts you, and you initiate a conversation about these feelings to a colleague whom you trust, I call this a "validate or calibrate" conversation.
The goal of the conversation is simple: You either
- have this uncertain feeling of yours validated by the shared experience of others (helps you cope, can sometimes be the catalyst for a call to action), or
- your trusted colleague helps you calibrate your understanding of the situation and your feelings (re-calibrating is important, and helps you stay within likely-correct parameters).
Having been on both ends of these conversations, I recommend only validating when you truly agree and have a shared experience or deep empathy for the situation. It is okay to console if you are not able to validate. Consolation is different from validation. Validation produces knowledge. It is the affirmation "you are right to feel this way". Consolation is merely a treatment of the symptoms.
The dual to this is: If you think your friend needs to calibrate, make sure to have that discussion.
They will listen to you.
After all, they came to you.