Sharing Laughs with Gun Haters

The magic of conversations loaded with nuance and enthusiasm is that they’re fun to have with other people—sometimes the very people we’d assume we’d come to blows with, but end up laughing with.

posted on August 28, 2023
Dibenedetto Sharing Laughst

America is more divided than it’s ever been (thanks, Covid!). The left went way further left, and the right went way farther right. Or was that the media manipulation making us think that’s what happened? 

What’s notably difficult in many circumstances is having conversations with anti-gun folks. It’s always been that way, but it’s certainly harder with the anti-gun rhetoric flying around the media and on the lips of every anti-gun politician trying to score points with their donor base.

Given what I do at Sovereign Ammo, I get invited in to a lot of conversations I would rather not have. I get the accusatory attacks out of the blue where I’m literally called a murderer (those are fun), people ghosting me once they find out what I do or how I feel (k, bye), and then everything in between. It’s a lot, and can really drain my energy.

However! There is hope, because I’ve found that while the media wants you to believe that we are a nation divided 50/50, that’s a massive lie. We are not. While 10 percent of people live in the extremes on either side, most people live in the huge middle ground of ideas that makes America what it is. The magical land of NUANCE. It seems like a world that most have forgotten about—or have we?

I would argue we haven’t. I’ve built a bit of a reputation for myself as the Mistress of Nuance and I love a big meaty idea with lots of things to explore with someone else. The magic of conversations loaded with nuance and enthusiasm is that they’re fun to have with other people—sometimes the very people we’d assume we’d come to blows with, but end up laughing with. It happens to me all the time once I take the proverbial bull by the horns and turn the conversation into a great one.

I can’t guarantee you’ll have a great conversation every time, but if you follow my rules for how to have a great conversation with MOST people on contentious topics, you should start having great conversations (and perhaps even laughter) with folks who disagree with you. Sometimes, they might even concede that you’ve got good points—and gasp—maybe even come over to your side of the fence.

Take it Offline
Nobody ever got trolled in the comment section on social media and came away thinking, “wow, I have been proven wrong today, I have seen the error of my ways, and shall henceforth commit to change.”  Uh … no.

People behave poorly online. There’s the allure of supposed anonymity, the safety of being a keyboard warrior far away from the people they’ve got beef with, and the thrill of being awful and getting away with it. You know it, I know it. (But you’d never ever do that, right?)

Rule #1 for having great conversations with people is to take it offline and make it personal. Get on a Zoom call and talk. Get on the phone. Do the weird thing and actually meet up with someone in person.

Your odds of having an educational, nuanced, chewy, and dare I say, enjoyable conversation skyrocket the moment you take the anonymity away, you pull someone else out of their bubble, and make it harder to be awful. Humanizing your interactions improves their odds.

Here are some helpful sentences that you can use to transition a conversation offline if it started there:

  • This doesn’t have to be an argument. I bet we’ve got lots in common! Want to hop on the phone to discuss? Could be fun!
  • I would love to discuss this with you personally and carefully listen to what you have to say. Care to meet up? 
  • This is a great conversation in the making—but having it online will ruin it. When can we talk?

Try any of those and modify them as you see fit. Notice the eagerness to engage an opinion other than your own? Notice the willingness to lean in? Notice the welcoming nature of the lines? Keep those parts intact and you’ll be good to go.

Replace Emotion with Curiosity
Way too often, we get really bunched up over someone having a different opinion. We think (incorrectly) that if someone attacks our thought, they’re attacking us. This is because we often haven’t worked on ourselves enough to realize that we’re solid as we are, and if someone disagrees with us, it doesn’t make us lesser as a person, or any less valuable. It often doesn’t even mean that we’re not right!

When we can approach conversations like these with confidence about who we are, our value to the world, and our worthiness in general, we show up differently. We show up with a relaxed energy, which is vital to a conversation where opinions diverge. You can’t be on edge and expect to have fun—those two ideas are in direct conflict.

Instead, when you have confidence, and you’ve taken your insecurity out of the conversation, you’ve left a massive space for curiosity. You can learn a tremendous amount about the other person, their feelings, why they arrived at their opinion, and more. Your mission as a curious, confident person, is to learn—not to try to re-educate. Sure, we’d love if everyone was pro-gun! The best way to invite someone to be part of our little club of Second Amendment supporters is with a welcoming attitude, which includes that confidence and curiosity.

Here are some great questions you can use to draw out the other person’s sincerely held beliefs, practice active listening, and be your own mini-talk-show-host:

  • That’s really interesting. Can you tell me more about that?
  • I feel like there’s more to this story. How is it that you came to feel this way?
  • Every opinion has a history to it. I’d love to hear more about your journey to this point of view.
  • When did you first come to feel this way?
  • What have others said on this subject that had an influence on you?
  • Can you say more?

These questions are all meant to be posed with a smile—and if they can’t see it, they should hear the smile in your voice. When we’re curious about other people’s lived experiences, we leave room for learning. Maybe someone had a negative experience as a child, or have beliefs they’ve never questioned until talking with you. By inviting them to talk and “think out loud,” you’re creating an opportunity for someone to find the flaw in their own argument (it happens!) and to be willing to consider entertaining another opinion. They may ask you the very same questions, and you’ll have a chance to share your views, experience, and feelings.

Assume Positive Intent & Commonality
In modern life, we assume negative intent and division—but that’s not true. Other people are doing the same assuming as you are. By leading the conversation in a better way, you can both walk away feeling great. To do this, you need to assume the very best of the other person and assume that you have lots in common—and this conversation is a wonderful opportunity to discover it and grow a relationship into an even better one.

When it comes to the subject of guns, people on all sides are coming from a place of good. People who are anti-gun tend to feel that guns hurt people, and they don’t want to see innocent people get hurt. You and I feel that being pro-gun means that we get to protect people, because we also don’t want to see innocent people get hurt. Right there is the common ground—but a differing perspective on how to reach the shared goal of innocent people staying safe.

Call me a wide-eyed optimist, but I do believe that most people are inherently good, and want to protect kids, communities, etc. To assume anything else is asking for a fight, and frankly, it’s just incorrect.

People generally agree on goals but disagree on how to achieve them. The most notable, recent example is Covid. Covid showed up for everyone in 2020, and while everyone agreed that people should stay healthy and we should avoid getting others sick, the problems started when people disagreed on the best approaches to accomplishing that goal. Lockdown? Or not? Great Barrington Declaration? Or not. Masks? Or not? Vaccines? Or not?  Etc.

When you focus on the common ground and the optimistic pursuit of it, you will find it. Ask questions like these to find it:

  • What’s the core of the issue for you?
  • What’s the most important root problem you’d like to address?
  • What’s the underlying root cause of all this, as you see it?
  • If you could eliminate one source of all the problems, what would it be?
  • These questions are meant to get someone to share the issues deeper than the matter of guns. Guns are a detail in a bigger conversation about personal safety, history, politics, personal responsibility, community, violence, and so much more.

Prioritize Respect
It can be very hard to remember to respect the other person if you passionately disagree with them, however, it’s integral to getting someone to entertain anything you have to say. When it’s your turn to talk and share, your job is to make it fun for the other person to hear an opinion other than their own. While that may sound like the hardest thing in the world, it’s easier than you think. Here’s how to do it:

Don’t: preach, lecture or talk down to the other person
Don’t: frame your opinions as facts
Don’t: get emotional or loud (speak slower so your voice doesn’t rise accidentally)
Do: explain what you feel, and the story of why you feel that way
Do: acknowledge valid points and concerns they have
Do: frame your opinions as what they are: opinions
Do: remember that this person is not your enemy, even if they disagree with you
Do: allow them to keep their opinion intact and agree to disagree

The truth is, you’re not going to convert a lot of people, but you can convert some. Usually, the best you can hope for is mutual understanding and agreeing to disagree, which can often pave the way for future conversations and sometimes a change of heart.

The Bottom Line
You’re going to win more hearts with kindness than anything else. Active listening, curiosity, confidence, and prioritizing the people you’re talking to over the topic at hand is how you not just win at these conversations, they’re how you win at life.

The best conversationalists, the ones who can bring people toward them through their magnetism and charm are the ones who get the raises, close the sales, and win elections. These are the same folks who have friends in every state, sleep well at night, and powerfully lead those around them by example.

USA is grumpy lately, and I for one, am tired of it. I want to be the change, and conversations like this is one way that I already am. Now it’s your turn.

Thanks for reading. Find me at sovereignammo.com and connect with me. Let me know if you have questions or feedback— I’m always eager to say hello to new friends.

About the Author: Laura DiBenedetto is the CEO of Sovereign Ammo; author of the #1 Bestselling Author of "The Six Habits"; a TEDx Speaker; and an award-winning marketer with numerous media appearances, including Fox News.

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