How to Persuade People By Playing Instead of Pushing

Andrew Folts
2 min readOct 9, 2021

October 7, 2021 — The harder you try to persuade people, the less they listen, which is why it’s better to stay playful.

When I used to work part-time at a run specialty store, my biggest challenge was the simplest thing: getting people’s phone numbers.

I would explain how we didn’t sell the number to marketers (which was true) and that it was just for their purchase history (also true)…

But a lot of customers refused to cooperate.

As soon as I said “sell” or “marketers,” they’d get this suspicious look on their faces, and snap shut like a master lock — no matter how hard I tried to persuade them otherwise.

All I wanted to do was be helpful, but no one bought it.

Hack: Push → Play

One day I was in a good mood and simply asked my customer: “What phone number would you LIKE on your purchase history?”

They gave it with no fuss.

And the next customer, and the one after that.

What I realized is that by trying to take the situation seriously, I accidentally created the very resistance I was trying to avoid.

When I switched from “push” to “play” and treated the exchange as if it was a reward for customers (“what number would you LIKE”), they stayed in an unlocked state, and everything went smoothly.

The easiest lock to pick is the one that never shut in the first place.

p.s. You can find this article on, along with other stories about #creativity, #minimalism, and #barefoot. Thanks for reading! (: 🖖
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Andrew Folts

Author of 365 Comics. Writer, illustrator, and barefoot runner slinging minimalist hacks for creative rebels.