What do you say when someone asks you how much something costs? The question makes me uncomfortable, but I find myself answering because I don’t know what else to do!
Sincerely, Money Is Buying Me Unhappiness
Why do so many people want others to show them the money? Why don’t others understand that money doesn’t grow on trees? Why are there so many tempting money-themed clichés out there (that I clearly can’t help but use in this post)?
The latest issue of Money Magazine’s addresses this issue in their Readers to the Rescue column. The question posed: “A colleague at my level told me her salary and is now asking about mine. (I make a lot more.) What do I do?” I, for one, was surprised that several readers suggested telling the truth. Now, I am all for telling the truth, but I am also a big believer in deflecting when the topic is out of your comfort zone. Money is a topic I personally feel should not be discussed in detail. It tends to lead to problems and I just don’t love problems. Do you?
Apparently Money Magazine’s expert, Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Poised for Success, agrees with yours truly. How I love an expert to agree with moi! Makes me feel so much smarter than I did at the beginning of the day! Here’s what Whitmore has to say on the topic:
If you’re not comfortable saying what your salary is, be honest and say that. Telling her that you’ll keep her salary confidential may smooth things over. And don’t open up if you don’t completely trust her to keep[ the number t herself – if, for example, she might cite your compensation as a negotiating point when asking for a raise.
I wholeheartedly agree with Whitmore, but in talking with a personal friend and trainer Elizabeth Congdon, I again posed the question,
It sounds like you need to make some small change (last pun, I swear) Here are a few priceless one-liners you can take to the bank (ok, now I’m finished – really):
“Less than you would expect and more than I hoped for.”
“It came in under budget.”
“I don’t remember.”
“It was a gift.”
“You’d be surprised if I told you, but I am sworn to secrecy.”
“What a funny question.”
“Look, a squirrel!”
Don’t be too hard on the offending party. Many times people are trying to make conversation, and may not have the tools to do so. If this is a first time issue, pick a quick one-liner and then change the subject. If this person is a repeat offender, it may be time to shut it down once and for all with something like; “You know by now that I don’t discuss money; thanks for understanding.” Make cents?