As Noesner once explained to an audience of university students: "Guys, if you're truly interested in a young lady in here, listen to them ... Listen to them talk about their likes and interests, and ask good follow-up questions to show that you are interested and paying close attention to what they have to say."
Noesner uses that same approach for high-stakes negotiations. The criminals don't usually plan on taking hostages, after all -- they're just panicking at a situation that has escalated beyond their control. It's not about exploiting some psychological loophole mis-wired into the human brain so much as it is listening to somebody like they're a human being. After every successful negotiation, Noesner would ask perpetrators what it was he said that made them agree to surrender -- and the answer was always "I don't remember what you said, but I liked how you said it."
"Yeah, I can do it like Morgan Freeman."
Another example: Noesner was once negotiating with a man who had holed up inside his house and threatened to kill himself if anyone came in. They had a line of communication, but no one could figure out how to get a real conversation going until one negotiator, who was interviewing the man's sister, discovered that he really, really loved his dog. Just asking the guy about Sgt. McFlufferbottom (dog's real name omitted for anonymity) opened up a line of conversation and eventually got the man out of the house alive.