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Why This Question Shouldn't Scare You: "So...How Much Do You Make?"

Why This Question Shouldn't Scare You:

If the idea of asking someone how much money they make sounds too personal, you may want to take a cue from the growing number of millennials who want to mix salary talk with polite conversation.A 29 year old freelancer, Charlsie Niemiec, recently spoke with CNN and reveals how she and friends learned how to talk about salary amongst themselves as a way to ensure they were being paid fairly.

Niemiec explains how a couple of years ago she found out a male colleague with the same experience as her was making $30,000 more. She says, “I had an 'aha' moment. If no one is going to be my ally in my workplace, I need to go talk to my girlfriends and find out what they're making.” So she did, and she carefully reveals her salary as well in order to make it a two-way sharing conversation.

If salary-talk among friends still sounds too risky, etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute Daniel Post Senning assures us that it can actually be beneficial for both you and anyone else involved in the conversation. Post Senning says, “In this post-Lilly Ledbetter [Fair Pay Act] awareness, it's in some ways useful to be talking about how much you make in the workplace.”

Post Senning and other experts share some advice on how to make salary conversations run as smoothly as possible as not to make any enemies. It’s important that your friends see you are willing to share personal information about how much you make. Post Senning advises, “You take the lead by volunteering information, not by asking a probing question. It might be something that they think is impolite, or it might not be. You could open the door without asking specifics or volunteering information that is private.”

Asking a friend about their monthly budget is a good way to get an idea of how much they make. You can volunteer details about your own monthly budget first and see where the conversation goes. But when it comes to the topic of money, don’t expect all of your friends to speak so freely. Some friends will be adamantly against discussing salary and it’s important that you respect this. Niemiec admits that some of her friends have made it clear that salary talk is off limits. She says, “If someone doesn't want to tell me what they make, I'm fine with that. I will share with them where I'm at in my career, to keep the door open.”

What do you think of the advice about having conversations with friends about salary?

Are you open with friends about how much money you make or do you think this is something better kept unsaid?

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