How and Why to Talk About Your Salary with Coworkers

by McKenzie Chapman   Ulticareer  | New perspective  | Equality  | Building connections  | Job satisfaction  | Work tips  | Money  | 

Talking about money with your coworkers has always been considered taboo. If you find out you make less money than someone else, you may feel jealous, which can cause resentment and tension in the office.

However, there are also benefits to being open about salary talk. It can help build equity in the workplace and also motivate you to work harder.

Read on for more details and some tips on how to appropriately talk about salary:

Gauge the situation

Reflect on why you want to talk about salary, or why the other person may be asking about it. If you’re asking because you feel competitive and jealous, then reevaluate your motivations. If you’re asking because you feel that you’re being underpaid, or because you’re seeking honest advice, then go for it. If someone is asking you and you trust them and feel like it won’t cause issues between the two of you, then feel free to discuss it. But if you sense any jealousy or ulterior motives, then it’s perfectly fine to avoid the topic as well.

Talk about it when you’re ready to leave

If you’re already prepared to pursue a different job, then it’s smart to ask around to see what people are being paid. This means you’ll be better prepared as you negotiate your new salary as to what’s fair for your position and industry.

It’s business, not personal

Be professional when you discuss salary. Although you can be friendly, you shouldn’t dredge up any personal feelings that may lead to emotions like jealousy or resentment.

You can address inequities

One of the main reasons you should talk about salary with your coworkers is to address inequality. If everyone is transparent about what they’re making, then you can determine if you’re being paid unfairly based on your race or gender for the same work as someone else.

Ask about raises

Be open when talking about raises as well. When you know percentage increases, you can be prepared when your own raise discussion comes up.

Create a safe space

When you’re talking about salary, it’s important to feel like you trust the other person, and that everyone is comfortable talking about it. If people don’t feel comfortable when you bring it up, then back off and don’t push it.

Be honest, but tactful

Don’t lie. If you’re uncomfortable talking about it, then politely decline. It’s much better than spreading misinformation. Don’t brag about how much you make, just be matter of fact. Be honest and polite to avoid hurt feelings.

Be respectful

If someone tells you how much they make in confidence, then don’t go around telling the entire office. It’s their information to tell, and if they want to tell others, then that’s up to them.

It may motivate you to work harder

If you find that someone makes more than you, it may mean they’re doing a better job or have more experience. This means you may need to work harder to prove your worth. This can be a great motivator to helping you work smarter and possibly to seek additional education like training in a new skill.

Know your rights

Educate yourself on your state and federal laws concerning disclosing salary, and know your company’s policies and history as well. Arm yourself with information so that you can rest easy when confronting a topic that has traditionally been considered taboo.

What do you think about discussing salary? Comment below with your thoughts, and share your career story on UltiCareer's survey to help students and others get to know what your type of job is really like! You'll be helping others find the right career path for them.

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