20 years back during my college days, something intriguing happened. Lessons learned from which I am following till date. During my 2nd year, I was very depressed. There were many issues which had been plaguing my mind for a while. Being an introvert, I didn’t discuss it with anyone. I was also not ready to discuss family issues with friends. One day, one of my friends asked me, ‘What is the issue’? I said, ‘nothing’. My friend smiled and told me that I looked very disturbed and I can speak to him.

It was a big surprise for me that he observed that I was suffering mentally. Immediately, I started to speak. This is where the learning started. He said,” Wait, let’s walk to the nearby restaurant and we can talk.”.

We went to a restaurant and when I started to talk, he again said, “Wait, let’s order something”. He ordered and I started to pour my heart out. He interrupted me again and placed another order. I knew he was very fond of food, but this was very annoying. I kept talking and he kept ordering food. He seemed to be more interested in food. I starting doubting as to whether he was listening at all. By the time I finished speaking, he hadn’t uttered a single word. I paid the bill and we went back to our homes.

This episode was very confusing for me; I forgot about my problems and started thinking about his behaviour. I couldn’t resist speaking with him again. I enquired as to what he thinks about my problems and what should I do? He looked at me and smiled.

He inquired as to how long had the issue been nagging me? I replied that I had been facing this issue for the past three months. He continued, “So in these three months, you would have thought about this issue many times. You would have also thought about many solutions, weighing pros and cons of each several times. When that is the case, how do you expect me to give a better solution to you within minutes of learning about the issue?”

“For most problems, we all know what is the best solution or, at least, the least damaging path. We don’t act because we are afraid, confused, and sometimes greedy looking for better solutions instead of accepting reality.  All that you need is a friend who would listen to you without judging you. A shoulder to lean on and cry — that is what I offered to you. Now you seem to be in an emotionally better state. I believe you have decided on your course of action by now,” said my friend.

He wished me best of luck and went his way. He was spot on.

Starting that day, if my friends come to me for technical advice, I teach them what I know; but if they come to me for any other advice, I take them to a restaurant and make them pay the bill.