You are a good person. You hold the door open for others. You floss. You never talk about politics or religion at parties. And you never discuss your salary with others, especially your coworkers. After all, disclosing how much you earn would make those who make less money than you feel uncomfortable and even inferior. How rude.
Your coworkers and colleagues are adults. Any shame or sense of being lesser others may feel due to their salary, or lack thereof, is total projection on your part. If anything, people want to know when they are being underpaid, and where their salary fits into the spectrum of who is being valued how and for what at the workplace. Yet, for some reason, our culture has made the topic of discussing our salaries with others taboo, and this inane rule of politeness has caused countless employees to be underpaid – some for their entire careers. Imagine the quality-of-life impact that has had on their lives and their families.
The Value of Your Salary
In this age of fake news, we as a society of educated people need to examine why we think and behave the way we do – about everything, especially our professional lives. So this includes revisiting why our culture is so reluctant to talk openly about how much money we earn as professionals. Our income dictates just about everything in our lives from where we live to the people we marry and become friends with, where we go on vacation, what we eat for dinner, and even how long we live.
Your salary is your life. Just try living without it. So why would it be so impolite to discuss something so important with others? Well, because, in capitalism, companies try to pay their employees as little as possible, and because knowledge is power, employees who have honest and open dialogues about their salaries are more prone to demand, and expect, a fair living wage.
Here is Adam Conover, of Adam Ruins Everything, to explain why and how “information asymmetry” works: