Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Draw Out Skills

By Alex Moskov March 10, 2021 | 4 min read

When tension increases, our automatic reflex tends to be to talk more and listen less. Tension makes us uneasy, and when we feel uneasy, we lose sight of the long view and get defensive. 

By shifting our focus to defending our positions, we fail to understand other points of view. In the flow of a live conversation, this could potentially erode mutual esteem and the flow of information decreases to an occasional trickle, the chance for creative breakthrough decreases, and team members have extreme difficulty in focusing on a shared higher business purpose.

If you continuously find yourself in these sorts of situations, don’t worry – many intermediate negotiators still get scrambled by tension. However, it’s important to realize that these moments of uncomfortable tension are what expert negotiators live for. They aren’t phased by uncomfortable silences, or difficulties and demands arising from the other party. Some might say that they live for these moments, and that tension is where true negotiating really happens. 

One of the most critical skills to develop to guide you through tension is Draw Out Skills.

What are Draw Out Skills?

Draw Out Skills are used to uncover information, build or maintain the other party’s self-esteem, or identify the underlying needs. 

Draw Out Skills encourage a more in-depth discussion through the use of Closed Questions and Open Questions. 

Closed Questions

Closed Questions want to focus a response, clarify a specific statement or position, or uncover existing information. These questions aim to elicit a simple yes or no response, and any information beyond the affirmative or negative is just extra icing on the cake. 

For example, Closed Questions look like: 

  • “Am I giving you enough lead time?”
  • ”Do you think the project will be completed on time?”
  • “What time do we need to get the package to the courier?”
  • “Do you agree with me?”

Open Questions

Open Questions want to let the other party give you more information and discover underlying needs that are deeper than the surface level. These questions aim to elicit lengthy responses and allow the other person to control the conversation.

For example, Open Questions look like: 

  • “What do we have to do to get the project back on track?”
  • “Under what conditions would you be willing to participate?”
  • “How will you approach the problem?”
  • “What other problems have you had with our service?”
  • “How would you describe the impact on your productivity?”

These questions don’t have a particular yes or no answer and are open-ended with the intention of getting the other party to communicate the finer details that illuminate the landscape. By understanding what concerns the other party has, you can strategically leverage your negotiables to sweeten up a deal. 

Open Questions are also great at helping you differentiate the other party’s needs from their wants.

Next Level Questions

Asking questions is an art in and of itself. There are different types of questions to master and add to your negotiation arsenal.

Stage 2 Questions aim to get the other party to: 

  • Rank
  • Envision
  • Compare
  • Share feelings

There are four core types of Stage 2 Questions:

  1. Prioritizing Questions get the other party to share the relative importance of their needs. 
  2. Hypothetical Questions get the other party to expand their perspective on the problem, think more imaginatively, or consider alternatives.
  3. Comparative Questions get the other party to examine a situation from a different point of view.
  4. Emotive Questions get the other party to talk about feelings and clarify emotional needs.

Final Thoughts

Questions that aim to draw out information also engage the other party and help them feel that their entire position is being heard in a collaborative and constructive environment. Sure, the tension will still exist, but as long as both parties maintain mutual esteem for each other, the probability of a creative breakthrough, and ultimately a closed deal, increases exponentially. 

Draw Out Skills through Closed and Open Questions pack a powerful combination to help peel back surface layers and excavate valuable information that will help you craft a better proposal and ultimately close more deals.


If you’re reading this, you likely work in a demanding environment that requires a lot from you personally and from your team. Inevitably, these high-output environments add stress to our roles and...

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