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The Five Yeses

The Five Yeses is a simple tool for communication that increases your ability to empathize with your partner. To do the exercise, one person will make a statement about something important to him or her. The second person will then ask yes-or-no questions about that statement until the first partner has given five yeses.
HUSBAND: I am really tired.
WIFE: Do you want to go to sleep now?
HUSBAND: No.
WIFE: Are you more emotionally tired than physically tired?
HUSBAND: Yes. (#1)
WIFE: Have you been putting in too many hours at work?
HUSBAND: Yes. (#2)
WIFE: Is there a lot of conflict at work?
HUSBAND: Yes. (#3)
WIFE: Would you like to start looking for another job?
HUSBAND: No.
WIFE: Do you feel like you have been getting enough support at home?
HUSBAND: No.
WIFE: Have you been doing too much around the house?
HUSBAND: No.
WIFE: Do you feel you want me to understand better what you are
going through?
HUSBAND: Yes.(#4)
WIFE: Would you like to go out for coffee to talk about it?
HUSBAND: Yes.(#5)
We recommend that you always end with a question that can tie up loose ends–
WIFE: Is there anything I missed?
HUSBAND: I guess that one of the things I am tired of is trying to do this alone.

Points to remember

  • There is nothing wrong with getting a no. You may learn just as much as with a yes.
  • It is important for both partners to get a turn. If you only have time for one partner to make a statement, let the other partner make a statement the next time.
  • You will get five yeses faster if you really think about what your partner is going through. This is the purpose of the exercise, to increase the feelings of empathy between partners.

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