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The Beauty of Conflict Tools - 5-5-5

Today we are sharing a specific tool for conflict with you on the podcast.

It’s called a 5-5-5.

This is a tool you can use when you and someone else have very different ideas and styles about something.

This something could be in the workplace- the way you approach a project, your styles of working, or something in your personal relationship around money, sex, kids, vacation.

Whatever the something is that causes recurring conflict, this easy, 15-minute tool is one that can help you both get space to dive into what you feel, knowing the other person will be listening.

If you have any recurring conflicts in your life, we encourage you to listen to this short episode where we explain the 5-5-5 and how you can apply it in your life.

We use this and have seen its success personally and in those we coach, we can’t wait for it to enhance your conversations too.

Learn More:

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Full Transcript:

CrisMarie: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. I'm CrisMarie.

Susan: I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication and building strong, thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict, and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuckness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.

CrisMarie: We spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention. Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.

Susan: Today we're going to talk to you about a specific tool that we talk about a lot, especially in couples. It's called the 5-5-5. It's a really great tool when you and somebody else, often your partner, but it can be adapted to work, have very different ideas about something. With couples, it could be money, sex, kids, vacation.

CrisMarie: In the workplace it could be a different way of approaching a project or something that you know you have to work with this person, but their way of doing it is very different than yours. It's when you have different styles, you have different ideas and hot topics or reoccurring topics, a great intervention is a 5-5-5.

Susan: The thing that's usually happening, what this supports, is one, it's a specific container. There's a very set time around it, but the other piece it does is it gives one person a space to be able to really dive in a little bit and know that the other person is going to listen. Then for someone else, it may be like, "What drives me nuts is if it goes on too long." The nature of 5-5-5 is that it's very distinct in boundary.

CrisMarie: We'll describe what it is. It's pretty easy, because the 5-5-5 takes a total of 15 minutes. Often when people say, "Oh, we don't have time to do that," really? You don't have 15 minutes? I bet you do. What happens is Person A goes first and they have five minutes of time to talk. They don't have to talk nonstop, but talk about the topic. Let's say it's money or a business strategy, whatever it is, they're talking about their ideas. What starts to happen in that five minutes, for me, one, I'm not going to be interrupted by Susan, and two, I start to get deeper into my thinking like, wow, why is this so important to me? I start exploring that in that five minutes. I go deeper even in my own introspection, and the other person is just listening, trying not to react or roll your eyes.

Susan: I think saying that that listening really is, when we talk about this in the book, it's that commitment to be influenced, like the willingness to be influenced, not, yes, try not to get into your defense. What am I going to say next? How am I going to respond to this? When you do, take a breath and really remember. Listen with the willingness to be influenced.

CrisMarie: We suggest actually using a timer. When the five minutes goes off, even if I'm in the middle of a sentence, I stop. Then Susan, if it was Susan, she would talk for five minutes and I would listen, and again, with that willingness to be influenced, to take in, wow, how has she put this world together so differently than me, and really being kind of accessing that curiosity, not thinking I have to change or be different, really just interested in what's happening for her.

Then the third five minutes is us where we dialogue. That's where you can ask clarifying questions like, "I don't understand what you meant by that," or, "Wow, this made me think of that," or, "I don't think you really understood me," or whatever. You could do all of those things. Then at the end of the 15 minutes, you stop. You do not continue to talking about ... It's not a 5-5-45, because anytime we've let that happen with us, we get into some sort of fight. It doesn't work well. It has that container. Here's 15 minutes for us to talk on this topic.

Susan: Now, if this is really something that is a hot topic, remember, this isn't about coming to the next step and conclusion of what we're going to do. It is about actually just becoming more aware and being willing to listen to the potential for new information and new ideas.

CrisMarie: It's about getting to dialogue. Too often we're .... Especially in business, but often in relationships, we want to like solve it. What are we going to do about it? The problem with that is you're solving the wrong layer of problem and so your solution is really not going to get to satisfying both of you. If you can ... Actually, if you have a tough spot doing repetitive 5-5-5, not in a day, like once a day or once a week, to really dive in, what's going to start to happen is that conversation is going to work on you in a whole different way. We have seen this over and over again. You will wind up coming up, if you actually really engage in this, coming up with new solutions that you never thought possible that are really solving at a deeper level.

Susan: Again, this can be used in a lot of different ways. Like we said, where we find it most effective is something where there's a hot topic, but I remember we were on a podcast recently where someone actually talked about how they could use it around the family table, because how many times do you come home and you want to hear from everyone about their day? Maybe you do like a 2-2-2 around the table. The idea of being ... Each person does get that rich opportunity to share their perspective.

CrisMarie: Especially if you have kind of an introverted style or you're derailed when somebody interrupts you, having that space, it just is so nice for me, and then for you Susan, I think, having that containment. It's going to end. We can go on with our day.

Susan: We really want you to try this, see how it works, and we wanted to give you a 5 for learning the 5-5-5 tool. All right. Thank you.

CrisMarie: Thank you for listening to The Beauty of Conflict podcast. If you're interested in The Beauty of Conflict for Couples book, you can pick one up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books or IndieBound. The benefit is it's a simple book with practical tools that you can apply right away, with stories about couples who I'm going to guess you're going to relate to. If you've enjoyed the show, please tell a few friends, and if you're willing, give us a five star review on iTunes.

Susan: Your review helps new listeners discover this program, and more people listening to this show means less friction and arguing and suffering out in the world. That's a great thing for everyone. Also, visit our website,,, to read our articles, join our newsletter, buy our other books and learn more about the services that we offer.

CrisMarie: Thanks again for listening. We hope you have a peaceful, productive and beautiful day. Take good care of yourself and we hope you'll enjoy us again for another episode.

Susan: Okay, thank you.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

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