Illustration for article titled When is it Appropriate to Talk About How Much Money You Make?Photo: Josep Suria (Shutterstock)

Americans are notoriously squeamish when it comes to discussing our personal incomes. In some ways it makes sense: in a society with an immense concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, and the glorification of the rich spread out on front pages and television shows, we can feel uncomfortable talking about our own earnings. And if you are a higher earner, you might not want to feel like you are bragging about.

However, in some cases it can be productive to talk to your friends and family about how much money you are bringing in to impose realistic expectations of doing something in our rocky economy, or to share actionable tips for enabling upward mobility.

Illustration for article titled When is it Appropriate to Talk About How Much Money You Make?

Share only when someone asks

If you volunteer and unsolicited information about your salary or income tax return, you may want to ask yourself why. The blurting out of a number that is reflected in a job offer you just received, especially without a clear reason for disclosure, says a lot more about your need for approval than anything else. On the contrary, if someone reports how much money you are making, it is a sign that they may be interested for productive reasons (it is also possible that they are making cynical comparisons between your income and theirs, but we assume that this is the case of good faith here).

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As a spontaneous gesture, it seems modest to grow above your salary unless it is in a useful context. Somewhere in the US social etiquette evolution, the topic got difficult – even below, conversations about sex work and religion.

Dan Schawbel, managing partner of the recruiting firm Workplace Intelligence and author of Back to Human, explains to Lifehacker how discussions about personal income turn into bragging when the salaries of two people are different.

He writes in an email:

Knowing that you make at least 15% above what everyone around you is doing, you may be viewed as bragging. It really depends on where you fall on the income spectrum of the audience you are speaking to. So keep that in mind.

While mindfulness is key in such discussions, there are times when it is not necessary to tiptoe around the subject of money.

Talk to colleagues about money

American wages have seen poor growth over the past 40 years. The stagnation of Paychecks in connection with the explosion in the job market has shaken workers and is less able to voluntarily embark on a course towards economic mobility than their parents. And that’s one reason why you should really make money with your co-workers.

It is possible that you will be paid less than someone in your company doing the same job as you. If you work at work and feel like you are underpaid – or annual increases come and go without reaching you – then definitely check out some trusted coworkers.

When asking the question of salary to colleagues in side positions (and in rungs above you), there is only one service you can do: knowing what to expect in terms of salary when interviewing for a promotion will give you one Idea of ​​how to negotiate properly. “I see this changing with younger generations, who are more open to sharing everything about their lives publicly, especially on social media,” says Schawbel, referring to a study from The Cashelorette, in which he finds that 30 percent of millennials shared their salaries with coworkers, compared to just eight percent of baby boomers.

Illustration for article titled When is it Appropriate to Talk About How Much Money You Make?

This gives you an advantage over your company

One of the more misleading practices of Corporate America is purposely not to inform employees about salaries in a company. In this sense, the corporate sector is one of the biggest beneficiaries of our money taboo. Salaries are rarely mentioned in job postings, and it can be presumptuous or distasteful to ask for money with a hiring manager until the application process is nearly complete.

Schawbel notes that this is intentional: “It is taboo to talk about your salary at work because your employer doesn’t want you to find that you earn less than someone with the same role and experience.”

Compare the notes with your peers as the odds are stacked against the workers in this sense. Think of it this way: if you have limited information about what your company has paid in the past in similar positions, then you have limited ammunition available for salary negotiations.

Discussing money can also help close the pay gap between people of color and their white counterparts. According to a Analysis 2019 According to the labor compensation research organization Payscale, black men make around 87 cents on the dollar compared to white men. (The The wage gap is often widening even when it comes to women of color). Discussing money creates a level of transparency that can help create a level playing field. And while this will not be a panacea – companies always watch their bottom line, of course, often at the expense of the workers – discussing money with coworkers is far more productive than ignoring it entirely.