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  • Writer's pictureJodi-Tatiana Charles

Communication in Leadership Series: Picking Up on the Vernaculars

April 6, 2024

Definition: Vernacular refers to the informal, everyday language spoken by a particular group or community, often characterized by its colloquialisms, slang, and regional variations. It encompasses the language used in casual conversations, social interactions, and within specific cultural contexts, reflecting the unique identities and experiences of those who speak it. Vernacular is the linguistic fabric that binds communities together, shaping their communication patterns and cultural expressions in diverse and dynamic ways.


Effective communication is the bedrock upon which successful endeavors are built. While mastering formal language and professional jargon is essential, equally important is the ability to pick up on the vernaculars—the informal, everyday language—of those you lead. This skill not only creates better understanding but also cultivates stronger relationships and drives organizational success.

Understanding the vernaculars of your team members allows you to bridge the gap between leadership and the frontline. It demonstrates empathy and respect for diverse perspectives and experiences. By speaking in a language that resonates with your team, you create an inclusive environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

Picking up on the vernaculars enables leaders to communicate more effectively. Complex ideas can be conveyed in simpler terms, ensuring clarity and comprehension among team members. This doesn't mean diluting the message but rather tailoring it to suit the audience's level of understanding. Whether it's using colloquialisms, pop culture references, or industry-specific slang, speaking the language of your team enhances engagement and encourages active participation.

Being attuned to vernaculars facilitates relationship-building within the team. When leaders demonstrate an understanding of their team members' language and culture, it creates camaraderie and trust. Employees are more likely to open up, share ideas, and collaborate when they feel a sense of connection with their leader.

Adapting to vernaculars also plays a vital role in leadership authenticity. People are more inclined to follow leaders who they perceive as genuine and relatable. By embracing informal language, leaders humanize themselves and break down barriers that may exist between hierarchical levels. This authenticity nurtures a culture of transparency and authenticity within the organization.

Picking up on the vernaculars requires more than just linguistic acumen. It demands active listening and cultural awareness. Leaders must pay attention to the language used in team meetings, informal conversations, and even digital communications. They should also be mindful of cultural nuances and regional dialects that may influence communication styles.

Picking up on the vernaculars is an indispensable skill for leaders navigating a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected through the digital age, as well as within diverse and dynamic workplaces. By speaking the language of their team members, leaders can enhance understanding, develop strong relationships, and drive organizational success. It's not just about what you say, but how you say it—and the ability to pick up on the vernaculars ensures that your message resonates loud and clear.




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