I have a job where I frequently meet new clients. Sometimes this is good, but often, it can be quite difficult.

I'll meet people who I have nothing in common with. So we'll explore a few topics - sports, weather, family life or whatever - basically just small talk.

Basically, if I find no interesting topic to latch onto, it gets really awkward and we run out of things to say.

In this job, aside from performing the task well, it's actually really important to build some sort of rapport with the client, because a lot of whether I'll get repeat business is based on this.

How can I build rapport with someone who I find boring and have nothing in common with?

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The easiest way for me to build rapport with peers is to be interested in their hobbies -- I may not be interested in, say, music production, but I sure will ask them about the process of how to figure out and create a song. Usually they light up and love to talk about their passions, and passion is fun to talk about. "So what are your interests? Oh, golfing huh? You know, I've actually never golfed, but it looks so relaxing. Is it difficult to learn?" for example is usually a very good way to start it off.

EDIT: I should also note that I am usually much younger than my co-workers and clients, and very rarely do my hobbies align with theirs, and talking about passions in general has always been a great middle ground for us.

The fact that you find some people "boring" suggests to me that you personally find interest in very specific things. Perhaps you have a particular interest or a range of interests that you enjoy discussing, but are struggling to feign interest outside of that "sphere".

That description probably fits myself to a degree - I enjoy music and films on multiple levels, both as a listener/watcher but also as a creator/writer. There's a bunch of other subjects I am enthusiastic about too. But what I have found is that, if I can tap into why someone else is enthusiastic about a subject they are into but I am not, I can sort of feed off their enthusiasm and "appreciate" the subject, even if I don't feel like exploring it any further myself.

To give you a personal example - I used to work with a guy who liked trains. I have no interest in trains. In fact, in the UK "train enthusiasts" (or "trainspotters", as some are termed both correctly and sometimes incorrectly) have been the subject of jokes for decades. To many, they are the original "nerds", long before the internet came along and made it cool to be a nerd! But after asking some genuine questions about where his particular interest came from, and why he found it interesting, I did kind of understand it, on a level. He liked a particular kind of engine that only carried passengers in rare circumstances when there was a shortage of other engines. He found the process of (a) finding out that this particular train was being put into use at short notice, then (b) getting to that part of the country in time, and (c) clocking up hours riding on this "rare" train, to be exciting. And, I can sort of get that. Trains might not be interesting to me, but exploring the country and the "thrill of the chase" sounds like fun. It reminds me of the thrill I get from seeing my favourite bands at different venues around the country.

So, what I am suggesting is that you don't have to like the same things as someone to find a way to talk about it. Explore their interests until you can appreciate them on a level you can relate to, and you might find that you can have a conversation you both understand and find interesting.

I have a job where I frequently meet new clients

In this set-up, you always have at least one thing in common, namely work.

Build rapport in their career, what the company does, what is it's purpose. This is also helpful for your pitch/onward working relationship.

Examples might be:

  • What brought you to working for the Civil Service?
  • What are you working on at the moment?
  • What did you study to become a data scientist?
  • This is an excellent answer, and I would like to add one small addition: the project itself. Talk about it, the technology being used, additional ways to use the project, future additions, etc. – Thunk Sep 19 at 15:12

Building rapport is an essential part of creating long-term relationships. Generally, men and women have different interests and this also varies from person to person. Building rapport with most of the people is not difficult if your approach is right. Here is what you should do.

  1. Find the things, topics, and activities your client likes to do or what interests them.
  2. Use this information as a tool to engage them.

In other words, engaging people and building rapport are easy when you talk to people about things they like rather than what you like.

Secondly, if you find something common then it is a bonus for you.

  • Crossmatching/mirroring and asking questions.
  • Focus on the body language while asking questions about the things you find boring.

This is a skill that most people find useful and will keep you engaged while being able to gauge rapport. Once you have kept a decent pace with the client's body language, and have asked them enough questions to not get awkward, focus on storytelling (short and sweet) and improv techniques.

Focus on the "Yes, and" of improv instead of the "Yes, but you're boring" that is in your head. "What Every Body is Saying" and "Improv Wisdom" are both good books for further reading.

Point being, they don't have to be interesting, you do, and most people will find you interesting if you find them interesting. Make sense?

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