Buy Them Lunch
A very wise Chinese leader was talking about a trick she learned from her mentor when she was a a new manager in a difficult environment. The trick? Buy them lunch.
She was counseled to put aside her own agenda. In fact, to go to the lunch with no agenda except to listen. No topics. No debating. No challenging questions. Merely following along with any topic of conversation that arose.
In just listening, she gave respect to her subordinates. In listening, she showed interest. In listening, she began to gain trust.
And if nothing much comes up at the first lunch, there's always dinner.