Reflections From A Wittenberg Coffee House – Communication Happens When You Want It To

Today has been quite interesting.  I have found myself in more conversations using my German and the conversations are getting just a little bit bigger.  I have decided that my next movie will be a comedy and it will be entitled, “Broken German Meets Broken English.”

So today, the staff at the Wittenberg Information center had a time of coffee and cake (a great German tradition I might say) and we had a chance to become better acquainted.  It gave them a chance to practice English and it game me a chance to practice German (they won) and it was a good time.  I have been very pleased with the reception that I have received.

I called the Luther Hotel and spoke to receptionist in my form of German, and, was understood.  I carried on a conversation at the grocery store and I purchased an item of clothing.  This is getting fun.

When I went to pick up clothing at the laundry, one clerk (who speaks no English) saw me and immediately went to find the clerk who speaks “some” English.  I don’t blame her.  Why try it if you don’t have to.

The highlight came when a woman, speaking German, asked me for directions to some locations in Wittenberg.  I understood what she was asking and then began giving directions in German.  We carried on a broken conversation (she spoke no English) but I was able to help her get to where she wanted to go.  It was amazing.  I was so excited.


Sometimes I speak with sign language and sometimes I speak with words.  Either way I notice that communication begins to take place.

Here is what I am learning (re-learning) about communication:

  1. Communication WILL happen when everyone involved wants it to happen.  You have to work at communication, whether it is in the same language or in a cross-language situation.
  2. Communication happens when the people involved have both passion and commitment to making it happen.  If even one resists trying, the process collapses.
  3. One needs to understand the other before attempting to respond.
  4. One has to set aside one’s own views in order to truly hear the views of the other.
  5. Communication requires listening.

I know that I have challenges.  I don’t have confidence in my German and I do breathe a sigh of relief when the person switches to English.  I working to stretch my abilities.  We all know I have enough trouble communicating in English without adding German to the mix.

However, I continue to become even more committed to being able to communicate effectively.  The process is both painful and joyful.  God grant me the ability to continue to strive toward effective communication.

So, some things to think about:

  1. What does it take to be committed to making communication happen?
  2. What barriers exist for you in the communication process?  What blocks your ability to listen?
  3. What specific suggestions do you have to make that would help others communicate more effectively?

Related Posts