Rethinking The Words You Should Lose For Those to Use

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Rethinking The Words You Should Lose For Those to Use

Marketing Podcast with Sam Horn

Sam Horn, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Sam Horn. She is the Founder and CEO of the Intrigue Agency. She’s been a speaker for 3 TEDx talks and the author of 10 books, including Tongue Fu, POP!, SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week. 

Her new book Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations, shows you how to speak up instead of shut down, face challenges head-on instead of running the other way, and keep your cool even when others don’t.

Key Takeaway:

We need to start applying constructive communication strategies to handle everyday character-building situations, conflicts, and difficult people. Sam emphasizes the importance of shifting from reactive and negative responses to proactive and compassionate ones. With the use of specific words and approaches, individuals can interrupt patterns of negativity and encourage cooperation and understanding in various settings, such as in the workplace, family conflicts, etc.

This framework empowers people to take a different path and turn challenging situations into opportunities for growth and improved relationships. Furthermore, by keeping these strategies in mind and setting a good example, individuals can influence others to create a positive ripple effect in their personal and professional lives.

Questions I ask Sam Horn:

  • [02:05] Does it seem like we’re offered more character-building situations today than ever?
  • [05:16] You shared what is probably the main tool from the book and that’s this concept of words to lose, words to use. Could you explain it?
  • [06:25] Let’s say you’re in an argument with somebody, you have two different opinions. How would you frame lose and use?
  • [09:30] Let’s talk about a very common workplace situation, a mistake is made on something that is a big deal and there’s a finger-pointing going on. How do we diffuse the blame game using these tools?
  • [13:09] Is there a constructive way to handle a bully?
  • [14:37] How can we practice the ideas you share in your book and keep it top of mind?
  • [17:18] Can give us a concrete example through a story of the common places where people use the ideas you’re mentioning?
  • [18:59] How could you make this a bit of a movement where people would start teaching this in schools and people would start having not just workshops, but coaching inside the workplace?

More About Sam Horn:

More About The Agency Certification Intensive Training:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by HubSpot. Look, AI is literally eating the web ChatGPT is more searched than I don't know, Taylor Swift. Check out HubSpot's AI powered tools, content assistant and chat spott. They both run on open AI's GPT model, and both are designed to help you get more done and to grow your business faster. HubSpot's AI powered content assistant helps you brainstorm, create, and share content in a flash, and it's all inside a super easy to use CRM now. Chat Spott automates all the manual tasks inside HubSpot to help you arrange more customers close more deals and scale your business faster. Find out more about how to use AI to grow your business at That's

(01:14): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Sam Horn. She's the founder and CEO of the Intrigue Agency, author of 10 books, including Tung Fu Pop. Someday is Not A Day of the Week and the new one we're gonna talk about today, Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations. So Sam, welcome back. This is at least your second time, if not third.

Sam Horn (01:43): Thanks John. You know, I love our conversations because we always, uh, focus on how we can use our communication to be a force for good. So rock and roll. Let's go. Huh.

John Jantsch (01:53): So let me start by saying, I know in the description of the book you talk about sharing every day character building situations and offering examples of what to say and not to say does it seem, is it just me or does it seem like we're offered more character building situations today than ever?

Sam Horn (02:09): Yeah. Character building is, is such a diplomatic word. . . Yeah. I unfortunately, I think that it is worse. In fact, when I wrote the Take the Bully by the horns book, I remember radio disc jockeys would say, is this getting worse? And I would say, it's not your imagination because we see so many examples of it and it kind of seems like this is what people are doing, so it must be okay. Right? Yeah, yeah.

John Jantsch (02:35): Wrong. Yeah. Yeah. Well, especially when you see the multiplication of that kind of activity on social media, that's, you know, I've, I don't know about you, but I mean it's kind of soured me on even wanting to pay attention to it because there's so much of that,

Sam Horn (02:49): You know, there's research. So this is not just a subjective opinion that Right. When you are anonymous, unfortunately, some people feel like they're not being held now, so they're the snark or the, you know, just the nastiness or the cruelty online can be very disheartening. And that's why we need to be the contrast and the opposite of that to remind people that it is possible to, uh, be kind and compassionate and proactive.

John Jantsch (03:16): Yeah. And, and one of the things I like probably the most about this book is that, you know, a lot of people get eaten alive by that stuff. Right. And at the heart of this book is how to take a different path yourself. So because it's, you know, we all know that the bully is the one who's really got a problem , you know? But what happens so often is we take the problem on. And I think that what you present in this book is a way to actually not internalize it. And you talk about the word I ever read it, impatience to empathy. You know, I just think that's such a beautiful idea.

Sam Horn (03:48): See, you, you got the crux of the book, which is Elvis said, when things go wrong, don't go with them. And so when someone's yelling at us, maybe it's easy to yell back when someone's taking their frustration out on us, it's easy to to respond, you know, in kind. And I really believe we can be the pattern interrupt that there are pragmatic. We're not just talking about being kind and nice, right. And being eaten for lunch. We're talking about being pragmatic and proactive in a way that we really do work towards finding solutions instead of finding fault.

John Jantsch (04:21): And you know, one of the kind of side benefits of this is you probably help that other person out too, don't you? Because they come with their, whatever their normal habit is and you know, all their frustration and we just compound it when we deal into it. But in a lot of ways, you're showing people how to def not only diffuse themselves but diffuse others.

Sam Horn (04:41): It's, you are right. There is a ripple effect of respect. Yeah. Is that not always, let's be realistic. It's that sometimes people will say, you know, I'm sorry, that wasn't fair. I was having a bad day. It wasn't right to take it out on you. And so sometimes people come to their senses because once again, instead of fanning and fueling their anger, we come up with an alternative. And for most of us, it's just a better way to get along with people. Yeah.

John Jantsch (05:08): So I saw you recently in Boulder, Colorado promoting the book and uh, meeting with friends and you shared, so I have a little advantage of this. So you shared kind of really what I think is probably the main tool, if you will, that comes from the book and that's the, the concept of words to use, words to lose. I wonder if you could unpack that, cuz I love the simplicity of it, but also the power.

Sam Horn (05:28): You know, John, in fact, unless people are driving somewhere, I hope they get a piece of paper. And because as marketers we understand the power of frameworks. Yeah. It really is the quickest way to make complex ideas. Crystal clear is to communicate them in a way that people say, oh, I see now they literally and figuratively see it. And that's when they get it. So put a vertical line down the center and on the top of the left hand column, put words to lose on top of the right hand column, put words to use. And what we talk about is how to turn conflict into cooperation, how to turn resistance into receptivity, how to turn resentment into rapport by giving these real life examples what to do when people complain, what to say, when people are blaming, et cetera. That shows what we often do on the left. That doesn't help. And then what we can do on the right, which does help.

John Jantsch (06:23): Yeah. So, so maybe, uh, give us some examples. Let's say you're in an argument with somebody. You have two different opinions. Uh, how would you, how would you frame lose and use? Okay,

Sam Horn (06:34): Over on the left. So we're talking about arguments, put talk louder. , right? Cause it's like we're in an argument. And so normally people get more intense. Shouting is a way to get their way correct or to back someone down or to force someone to listen to us. It just makes it worse. Instead, you and I talked about a pattern interrupt and I mean a physical pattern interrupt. Mm-hmm. , like if we play sports, we know if we go time out or like a policeman would, you know, wait a minute, stop , hey, you know, anything to stop because that will give a pause. That gives us a chance to get the verbal foot in the door. And then we say these four words, let's not do this. We could argue for the rest of the day about who dropped the ball on this. It won't get that client back. Instead let's, or this won't help, this won't help. Blaming each other won't help. Instead. And we literally and physically and verbally shift people over here to what we can do now instead of what should have been done. Then

John Jantsch (07:37): My dad used to say it when people would be like, well I don't know how this happened. You know, I did this. And he was like, well, fix the problem, not the blame. And I just always loved that statement, ,

Sam Horn (07:48): By the way, and you're wise man. And by the way, those words, what happened are not helpful . Right? It's, uh, there used to be a woman on the playground and uh, if kids were getting into it, she would go, what happened here? Well, it's like, well, he took my ball. Well, it wasn't his turn. You know, we actually encourage blaming and finger pointing. Yeah. Instead, when we say, okay, give each other space, I love those words. Give each other space. So we're literally and figuratively not in each other's face. And then we say, what do you want? What do you want? Now we can focus hotana to get that. Or as your dad said, fix the problem, not the blame.

John Jantsch (08:26): And, and you know, since we went into to talking about kids, well my mom, I know I recognize this years later when I became a parent, she, when we would fight, we had, I have seven brothers. So you can imagine some of the brawls that, that we had, instead of telling us what to do or I mean, instead of telling us what not to do, she would give us something else to do. . You know, it was like, why don't you guys go play baseball? Oh, okay. That argument was stupid. We'll go play baseball. And I, it it worked time.

Sam Horn (08:56): John, why speak? You know, one of my favorite, it's a video for kids and it's called The Snowman and it has the most wonderful music. And there's a woman at in the kitchen doing the dishes and her kids are outside playing in the snow. One throws a snowball and it smacks into the window. She opens the window and she leans out. And do you know what she says?

John Jantsch (09:18): Do something else. Yeah. .

Sam Horn (09:20): That's exactly right. She says, do something else instead of stop throwing snowballs. Right, right. You just reinforce that dreaded behavior. No, do something else.

John Jantsch (09:30): Let's talk about a very common workplace, uh, situation. You know, a mistake is made on something and it's kind of a big deal and there's a lot of finger pointing that goes on. Uh, how do we diffuse kind of the blame game, uh, you know, using these tools?

Sam Horn (09:48): Okay, over on the left, just put the word should, you know, you should have told her she didn't know how to use the computer. You should have like kept the computer on instead of losing the finals. You should have asked Charlie for help. That word should, has no constructive value. It serves no good purpose. It usually pertains to the past. No one can undo the past. So over on the right, put next time from now on in the future. Cuz now we're being a coach instead of a critic. We're shaping behavior instead of shaming it, they're learning from the mistake instead of losing face. And we're showing them how to do it better instead of just making them feel bad.

John Jantsch (10:26): Yeah. And from a leadership standpoint, you know, the should thing just makes people not want to try. Right? I don't wanna make that mistake again. So I'm not gonna try what was probably a better way. Right. , whereas what you described kind of opens up the door for trust to say, okay, it's okay to fail here. I mean I obviously, I can't just catastrophically fail over and over again, but it's okay to fail here if I'm trying. I mean, and that, I think trust, extending trust like that is probably one of the greatest leadership skills.

Sam Horn (10:55): See John, we all heard of the great resignation. You know what, 10 million people quit their job. They don't feel seen or heard or valued. What they feel is shame, or ignored. Right? And often it's like, especially if they're new and they make a mistake, it's like you shouldn't put so much information on your slides. Well, you should have told that customer. It's like, and they shrink while they resent, resent because it's like, you're making me feel bad and I can't do anything about it. Yeah. So this is an incredibly constructive way versus a destructive way to handle mistakes is to immediately, how can we prevent that from happening again? What did we learn from that? How could we handle it more effectively in the future?

John Jantsch (11:35): And now let's hear from a sponsor. This episode is brought to you by Business Made Simple, hosted by Donald Miller and brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals hosted by Donald Miller Business Made Simple Takes the Mystery out of Growing your business. In a recent episode, they talked with my old pal, Seth Godin, where he explained the virtues and values in his book called The Song of Significance, A new manifesto for teams. Listen to business Made Simple. Wherever you get your podcast.

(12:07): Hey, marketing agency owners, you know, I can teach you the keys to doubling your business in just 90 days or your money back. Sound interesting. All you have to do is license our three-step process that's gonna allow you to make your competitors irrelevant, charge a premium for your services and scale perhaps without adding overhead. And here's the best part. You can license this entire system for your agency by simply participating in an upcoming agency certification intensive. Look, why create the wheel? Use a set of tools that took us over 20 years to create. And you can have 'em today. Check it out at DTM world slash certification. That's

(12:55): Okay, let's talk about an unfortunate situation that probably many people have faced. And that's just the bully. I mean it, you're not arguing with the person because they're just there to accomplish one thing, right? I mean, and your point of view is not the one thing, right? So is there a constructive way to handle, uh, the bully?

Sam Horn (13:13): Absolutely. I'm gonna say something John, that flies in the face of what we've been told. We've been told to use eye replies. I don't think that's fair. I don't like to be yelled at. Guess what? With bullies or narcissists? Controllers, manipulators. You know, that's double jeopardy cuz it keeps the focus on our reaction to their behavior. And if we say, I don't like being yelled at, they're thinking good. That's why I'm doing it.

John Jantsch (13:38): I, I is who I came to bully .

Sam Horn (13:42): Exactly. So over on the right, I believe in interrupting, especially if this is a pattern. This isn't a one-time thing. This isn't normally a great employee who's had a really bad day and just is happened to let no know this is over time, repeatedly, intentionally we can see there doing this to get their way, stand up and speak up for yourself. And by the way, if you're seated and they're standing, which is often what happens cuz they're dominating you. This is a dominant submissive kind of thing. Literally and figuratively, stand up for yourself. Stand up, use their name, say Bob, say Sarah, you know, you are welcome to come back when you are ready to treat me with respect or enough or, you know, this is, this conversation is over. Or we'll revisit this when you, and now you're keeping the attention where it belongs, which is on their inappropriate behavior instead of our reaction to it.

John Jantsch (14:36): So I interview a lot of business book authors. You're a business book author, but this book is really a self-development tool that anyone, you know, we've talked about parents using it. We've certainly talked about in the workplace, we've talked about with, uh, bullies in any situation, probably family arguments we could cover pretty easily. So, so in a lot of ways it's just a, would you call this a soft, well you do call this soft skills. So it's really a soft skill that we need to work on, right? I mean, as a habit. So how do you, obviously there are situations that are ob that present themselves and you're like, oh, I remember Sam's book, I'm gonna use this here. But to really habituate it, you know, how can we just, how can we practice it? Keep it top of mind?

Sam Horn (15:20): Well I tell you is that if with your permission, John, we'll through you, we'll send people a words to lose, words to use perfect reminder cart that they can put right by their laptop. They can put it right by their desk on their refrigerator. And here's why you just brought up, it's a skill. Ideally we would've been taught this in school right? Along with physics and calculus and so forth. The good news is it's not too late if we keep these words to use instead of these words to lose insight in mind. Mm-hmm. , it keeps them top of mind. And then even our family, even our teammates, even the people in the office, they're about to say, well I'm sorry that happened, but it's like, whoop, I'm sorry that happened and thank you for bringing it to my attention. And it really does help us accelerate acquiring this skill by keeping these words to lose and use insight in mind.

John Jantsch (16:13): So, so are these words, actual words that you have on the card or, or are we in charge of creating that

Sam Horn (16:18): List? Well, no, both because I love it when people say, do you ever add words to your list? All the time. What you got? Tell me . It's uh, in fact a guy came up after a session and he said, do you ever add words to your list? And I said, yeah. I said, which word would you like to add? He said, well this word it causes so many problems. I said, good. What's the word he said, that's the word. I said, no, what's the word that caused the problems? He says, yes, . I said, I felt like who's on first? Right? , it was the word problem. Just put the word problem on the left, you know, how do we wrap up meetings? Any other problems we need to talk about? You know, can I go ahead with that project? Sure. I don't have a problem with that. What's your problem? Oh boy. For most people the word problem means something's wrong and we use it even when there's nothing wrong. And now there is . Yeah.

John Jantsch (17:11): So, so your books, one of the things about your books, all well-written books frankly have a lot of stories and you are great storyteller. Do you want to pick any of these kind of common places where people use it and really give us a concrete example through a story?

Sam Horn (17:26): It's, and, and I'm so glad you asked that because this is a personal story. However, after having the pleasure and privilege of, of doing speaking engagements and workshops and podcasts, the feedback is this is the story people remember and this is the one that changes the way they deal with someone in the heat of the moment. So I'm visiting my son Andrew in New York, and his one-year-old son hero is crawling across the floor, hauls himself up on the guitar stand, starts banging on the strings. Now Andrew over on the left, could have yanked the car guitar away, could have said Stop banging on the guitar. He could have said no. All of which would've made hero feel bad instead. And you probably remember this story, John, he said one word. Do you remember the word

John Jantsch (18:14): Don't . Gentle. Gentle. I failed

Sam Horn (18:19): .

John Jantsch (18:22): Don't was I I was giving an example of on the left

Sam Horn (18:24): He says he's quick folks, . Well, and and here's the ripple effect cuz you and I agree that words have ripple effects. I saw hero's face transform in that moment and he reached back to the guitar Strong. Yeah. Reached up to some bell's ring. And he made music is because Andrew used words that shaped his behavior instead of shamed it, he told him what to start doing instead of what to stop doing. And he reinforced the desired behavior instead of the dreaded behavior.

John Jantsch (18:58): Yeah. So Sam, how could you make this, um, a bit of a movement where people would start teaching this in schools and people would start, um, having not just workshops, but coaching, uh, inside the workplace.

Sam Horn (19:12): What a great idea is that what actually I do certi, just like you certified people, I certified people in tongue fu and talking on eggshells. Yes, they do take it into schools, they do take it around the world. We have people, you know, in fact Tung Fu was the number three ranked book in South Korea, you know, almost 20 years after it was published. It was the most checked out book. So wow. Hopefully this is a mission and a movement and uh, it helps us do what Mother Teresa said. She said, the world is full of good people. If you can't find one, be one . That's what I hope this book does and gives them the language to do it.

John Jantsch (19:50): Well, I couldn't get past your South Korea, your Korea, South Korea, cuz I'm just, I'm, I'm instantly going to pop there with, you know, like K-pop and

Sam Horn (19:58): Quick mind there John

John Jantsch (20:00): . So well, Sam, tell people where they can find out obviously about more about your work. We will have the link to the template that you offered, the, the card that you offered. Um, and um, obviously find out more about all of your works including talking on eggshells.

Sam Horn (20:15): Well, thank you. They can, it's easy. Go to and I've got my TEDx talks there. I've got, you know, I love quotes. Got a lot of good quotes on how to be a good person there. And also if they follow me on LinkedIn, I post usually a couple times a week with new examples and with new phrases and techniques and recommendations that aren't even in the book. So hopefully we'll just keep expanding this message and mission and movement. Yeah,

John Jantsch (20:40): That's um, it's fun about it. I think lots of books, most authors would say this, but a book like this, I'm sure you're getting a lot of feedback where people did something or they tried something and you're hearing their story of how it worked. And that's probably one of the most gratifying things as an author I suspect it is for me. Certainly,

Sam Horn (20:57): You know, and we are back to the ripple effect because so, you know, you're in the marketing space, in the leadership entrepreneur space and what means so much to me is when, you know, Albert Schweitzer said in influencing others example is not the main thing, it's the only thing . So if we go first and we set the example, once again, our teammates, our customers, our family members are more often likely to follow our example and that way we really can be a force for good.

John Jantsch (21:28): Yeah. Awesome. Well, Sam is always great. I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and hopefully we'll see you again soon out there on the road.

Sam Horn (21:36): I will look forward to it.

John Jantsch (21:37): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it, Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketing I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.



HubSpot Podcast Network

You may also like