Say what you want about teaching, it makes it extremely easy to answer the above question.
But that question might not be the best way to build rapport with someone else. In fact, it may be best to avoid talking about work entirely.
It’s better, apparently, to find shared ground about common goals and interests:
Research findings from the world of network science and psychology suggests that we tend to prefer and seek out relationships where there is more than one context for connecting with the other person. Sociologists refer to these as multiplex ties, connections where there is an overlap of roles or affiliations from a different social context. If a colleague at work sits on the same nonprofit board as you, or sits next to you in spin class at the local gym, then you two share a multiplex tie. We may prefer relationships with multiplex ties because research suggests that relationships built on multiplex ties tend to be richer, more trusting, and longer lasting
The author of this article suggests you can ask the following questions instead:
- What excites you right now?
- What are you looking forward to?
- What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?
- Where did you grow up?
- What do you do for fun?
- Who is your favorite superhero?
- Is there a charitable cause you support?
- What’s the most important thing I should know about you?
Unfortunately, unlike the ubiquitous, “So, do you do?” none of these are useful as conversation-starters. And then, after I’ve corrected for Britishness, there’s exactly zero I’d use in the course of serious adult conversation…
Source: Harvard Business Review