Most people find talking about money incredibly uncomfortable. When a person asks you how much you make, it is normal to feel a bit startled or even defensive, largely because people treat their salaries like private information.

Figuring out how to respond to the person can feel like a challenge. This is especially true if a co-worker is asking about your salary and you don’t want to give a reply that may seem rude or unprofessional.

Luckily, there are a few ways to navigate this tricky conversation. If someone asks you how much money you make, here is how to respond.

Be Polite

In most cases, a person asking about your salary isn’t trying to be rude or inappropriate. Often, they are merely curious, and they don’t mean you any harm or discomfort.

As a result, it is always best to be polite when you reply. If you don’t want to answer, decline in a courteous manner. If you are open to sharing the information, be well-mannered, professional and straightforward.

Do a Little Digging

When someone asks a question that may feel intrusive, such as asking about your salary, consider replying with a question. Asking them, “Why do you ask?” can help you gather insights into the person’s intentions, giving you guidance on how to respond.

For example, a co-worker may ask because they are preparing to negotiate for a raise and want to know what others in similar roles make to support their request. Then, you can decide whether you want to clue them in or simply point them to resources that can help them discover what they want to know.

Don’t Succumb to Pressure

If you genuinely don’t want to answer, make sure you are firm (but polite) when you decline. You are rarely required to answer questions about your salary, and it is ok to say you would prefer not to disclose that information.

Should the person persist, just reassert that you would rather not say. As long as you are courteous and professional, you shouldn’t face any repercussions.

Consider the Goal

In some cases, disclosing your salary isn’t a bad idea. For example, if a teammate is significantly underpaid, cluing them in may help them secure a fair salary. Similarly, if discriminatory practices are influencing pay rates, having your entire team have an open discussion about compensation could shed light onto a larger issue or help support collective action.

While asking about a person’s salary may seem inappropriate, it is rarely against the rules. Additionally, in most cases, the person asking isn’t trying to make you uncomfortable; they usually have what they feel is a legitimate reason for asking. Resist the urge to be defensive or rude when you reply, even if you believe there is no justification for the question. It is always best to be polite, but don’t be afraid to be firm when you decline if you really don’t want to discuss it.


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If you would like to know more about navigating awkward workplace conversations, the team at PrideStaff can help. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled staff members today and see how our experience can benefit you.

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