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Let’s take the word Fingerspitzengefühl. Literally it means finger tips feeling (der Finger (singular)/ die Finger (plural) = finger, die Spitze (singular)/ die Spitzen (plural) = tip or peak, das Gefühl = feeling.

3 words form 1 word in German, which is often the case and that’s why I love the German language, I think it is practical and creative at the same time, but that’s another story.

If you have Fingerspitzengefühl, you handle a situation gently and with caution, you are intuitive and you know how to react in a given situation. It can also mean that you are tactful, diplomatic, considerate, respectful and sensitive.

Fingerspitzengefühl describes a great situational awareness and the ability to respond most appropriately and tactfully. It shows respect for somebody else’s feelings. The term is figurative and doesn’t show a realistic picture of the ability being described. With your fingers you have a tactile sense and if you touch someone or something you automatically connect. The English language is full of figurative and symbolic gestures you can do with your hands and fingers. Fingers and hands are often used to express different actions, symbols and situations. Let me give you some examples, which pop up immediately – ‘thumbs up’, ‘fingers crossed’, ‘shake hands’, ‘give me 5’, ‘clap hands’, ‘hands in the air’ and one of the movies from our childhood I will always remember E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial when he says his legendary sentence with his forefinger in the air connecting with the child ones “Nach Hause telefonieren”/ “Phone home”.

On the whole, the Fingerspitzengefühl is a nice thing, it is a form of communication with a lot of tactfulness.