“Babble-Talk – How To Deploy It To Win More Negotiations” Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Confusion can lead to confoundment, which can lead to confinement. Never be chagrinned by the perplexity of a puzzle.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“Babble-Talk – How To Deploy It To Win More Negotiations”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

If we do, no – scratch that – instead, well, nevermind – but maybe, nah – that probably won’t work either. If the other negotiator said something like that during your negotiations, what would you think? Would you attempt to understand her nonsensical statements? She could be engaging in babble-talk, incomplete sentences devoid of complete or complex thoughts, to pull you into her head. And that may be her intent – get you into her head while she’s really getting into yours.

Babble-talk can be disrupting in negotiations. But it can also be a stealthily used maneuver to extract concealed information. Thus, it can be used as a tool to lead, alter, and deploy the other negotiators’ will to adopt yours. Continue and discover how you can use babble-talk to enhance all of your negotiation efforts.

Why Is Babble-Talk Effective In Negotiations?

Babble-talk can be the utterance of vague pronouncements that appear as though its user is in the formative stages of thoughts. One can also use it to convey incomplete sentences subliminally. It can be the ploy appearing to give an unreal or real insight into a negotiator’s ideas.

When a negotiator uses it in a negotiation, he can deploy it to distract the opposition from the discussion’s current line, implying that he’d like to address a different aspect of the talks or as a way to confound the opponent. And that’s the potency of this tool. A negotiator can use it to alter the negotiation’s course stealthily.

Things To Consider Before Deploying Babble-Talk

1. Timing of Deployment

The timing of everything in a negotiation impacts what follows. And so it is with the deployment of babble-talk. If you overuse it, its further use becomes diminished.

The best time to employ babble-talk may occur when you want to establish an offer as being out of bounds. For example, your opponent may ask for 100 when you’re only willing to give 50; it doesn’t matter what the 50 and 100 represent.

At that point, you might say in a barely audible tone – but loud enough to be understood – babble-talk, does he know that I’ll only go to 50? The effect would be as though you were talking to an invisible person. Your opposition might ask what you said, to which you might say, oh nothing. I was thinking out loud. Regardless, he would have heard your out-loud-thinking.   

2. Consider The Effect That This Ploy Has Had Before Your Next Unleashing Of It.

Any tactic employed during negotiations can lose its effectiveness. Thus, you should adopt the use of this tool when you sense the time is right. It would be best if you based that determination on the prior results you’ve had, to what degree there were push-backs, and the information you received from its use.

When To Use Babble-Talk

It bears repeating; a negotiator should only use babble-talk:

1. To alter the course of the negotiation that may be stuck

2. To modify the thought process the other negotiator has about the proceedings

3. To cast doubt about the other negotiator’s offer as to its validity from your perspective

If you sense this ploy is beginning to wear thin, omit its use until there’s a better opportunity, based on circumstances. Suffice it to say, use babble-talk strategically. To do so in other ways may reduce its value.

Ways To Combat Babble-Talk

Okay, now you understand the potential potency of babble-talk. How might you defend yourself when your opponent attempts to use it against you during negotiations?

1. Appraise Intent

a.) Understand what your opponent’s use of babble-talk is trying to achieve.

b.) Question, inwardly, why your opponent is attempting to employ this tool at a particular time in the negotiation.

c.) Closely related to ‘b,’ understand the other negotiator’s mindset about his deployment. The uncovering of that information will disclose the thoughts of the opposition.

2. Actions

a.) First, be aware of not getting drawn into explanations by delving too deeply into reasons. Set a point at which you decide to shift the conversation.

b.) At some point, consider using babble-talk to confront the opposition. Doing so may lead to the mutual understanding that two can play that game, which may neutralize the opposition.

c.) Explain that the other negotiator’s actions are distracting or annoying. Choose the word that best fits the situation so as not to bring more angst into the negotiation.

d.) Don’t allow your counterpart to pull you too deeply into their head, less you start to divulge your insights. Doing so will give her information about your position that she previously did not have.

Your arching thought must be to maintain cognitive control over the process. That’s what will allow you to succeed in your quest to confront and overcome the opponent’s efforts to use this tool against you.  


Years ago, in the U.S., there was a T.V. detective that played the role of a bumbling, babbling, buffoonish character. Unbeknownst to his suspects, that was his way of negotiating with them. He used babble-talk to pull suspecting who-done-it-characters into traps whereby they unknowingly disclosed their actions in dastardly deeds. Confusion can lead to confoundment, which can lead to confinement. The persona of the detective’s character was the factor in the downfall of his perps. And his babble-talk was the key that led his suspects to expose themselves.

The timing of everything you do in a negotiation impacts what follows. And so is the case with the deployment of babble-talk. Therefore, while you may not be as wittingly cunning as the T.V. detective, you can become more cunning by employing babble-talk strategically to win more negotiations. And everything will be right with the world.  

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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