Fingerspitzengefühl | Word of the Week | DW | 04.12.2012
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Word of the Week


Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it.

Whether it be touching, holding, pointing or writing, our fingers are put to use throughout the day. But a sensitive touch can also help negotiate tricky social situations. For example, if a guy asks his girlfriend whether she's put on weight, or gotten dressed in the dark, you can be sure he's got no Fingerspitzengefühl.

As a compound of the words Fingerspitzen ("finger tips") and Gefühl ("feeling"), saying someone has no Fingerspitzengefühl doesn't mean that he or she has no feeling at the tips of their digits. Rather, Fingerspitzengefühl is all about the fine art of interpersonal relationships.

Tact, diplomacy and a certain amount of sensitivity to the feelings of others are required in order to negotiate the most precarious of social situations in a truly elegant fashion. Those with Fingerspitzengefühl always manage to find the right words at the right moment - and, most importantly, know when it's just better to say nothing at all.

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