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Floppy Language


Techniques > Use of language > Modifying meaning > Floppy Language

Method | Example | Discussion | See also



When you want to fail at persuading, one of the best ways is to use floppy language.

Many of us use floppy language without knowing it. Being non-floppy is a good first step to speaking more persuasively.


Before you begin, you need to get your beliefs set up to ensure you fail to persuade.

First, you need to put yourself in an inferior position. Everyone else is better than you, of course. their opinions are right and yours is wrong.

This then sets you up to be powerless. Everyone else has power and you, because of your inferiority in all aspects, have none.

Now you can know, in your heart of hearts, that you will fail to achieve anything in life. So when you do fail, you can, at least in that respect, be right.


When trying to persuade someone, turn on the full force of floppy language. This includes:

  • Apologising frequently, for example starting sentences with 'I'm sorry'.
  • Mumbling incoherently.
  • Broken sentences with pauses, 'um's, 'er's and other signals of uncertainty.
  • Speaking statements as if they were questions.
  • Letting sentences tail off into nonsensical ramblings.
  • Making frequent use of qualifiers that signal uncertainty and willingness to concede.
  • Use of submissive body language.


Yes, er, well I thought that you might, if you want to, that is, think a bit about these, um, ideas that I sort of had. I'm sorry if this is a bad time, but I did want to, well, er, let you, um, know that I am trying to help if I can. Er.


The underlying state that causes much floppy language is low self-esteem. If you believe yourself inferior to others, you will verbally place yourself on a lower rung and concede at the earliest opportunity.

Floppy language is not used just by totally weak-willed wimps. In fact many people who seem very assured and confident let their floppiness slip out from time to time. Most of us believe we are superior to everyone else (and those that do often have a serious self-esteem problem that they have hidden, even from themselves).

Watch out for little bits of floppiness leaking into your persuasive language. When others are prepared and listening carefully, they may take this as a signal of weakness and use it as a lever. Of course, you can also look for floppiness in others and use it appropriately.

See also

Qualifiers, Assertiveness

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