As a teacher, I was once asked to choose a student who was not my favorite; the challenge was to focus on that student for the next month. Every time I saw him, I was to offer some type of greeting that included a reference to anything the student found interesting. Suggested topics included pets, sports or other extracurriculars, a vacation, a special interest, or something positive where you witnessed his involvement.
"Hey, John, I saw you make that great assist during the basketball game yesterday! Impressive!"