Why Don’t We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is?

Something interesting happened recently that got me thinking. I love it when that happens, because it’s always helpful to be snapped back to awareness, especially when i operate a moving vehicle on a daily basis and all to often, find myself at work but not remembering driving there. But that’s another story. This story is about a good friend’s recent opportunity to make a career change, the typical back and forth considerations that go into doing so, and more importantly, the communication between us about those considerations.

Friends are and should be like extended family, right? They’re not usually the first ones you’ll turn to for a kidney or a place to stay for a few months while you recover from an unexpected financial setback, but they’re definitely down the list, and being on the list at all, should be considered confidantes and people you can share things with, like goals, fears, conflicts, personal issues, etc.

But what about your salary?

There’s this unspoken sense that you don’t share salary with friends, and some times, with family. I’m not quite sure how or why that is, but from my perspective and my own experience, it’s seems to me to be about competition, vanity, and status. Competition, because if you disclose to a friend a salary higher then their own, there’s a sense of one being ‘better off’ then the other. No matter that one might be making a bit more but not own a house, have two kids and a single income while the other owns a house that’s appreciate well, has no expenses and is one of two ‘bread winners’ in the household; there’s still this feeling of competition around it. The vanity is tied to the competion, and can have a great deal with how a higher salary might be presented, disclosed or perceived. It seems easy to imagine that somebody’s attitude about having a higher salary might be gloating or showing off. There’s also a challenging aspect to it, in which one might feel insulted that the other, who they don’t see having nearly the same skills or expertise as them, actually gets paid more.

I think it’s strange, because if we could think outside of that box and see beyond those limited views, it’s actually an empowering thing for all concerned. As an example, in a discussion with a different friend recently, i learned that they were making 15K more then I was, and in a relative sense, without any disrespect intended, I don’t really think they’re doing anything more then or harder then what I do. I didn’t see it as a bad thing, I think it’s tied to their career path, duration and title, and not the function they perform daily. It gives me something to be aware of in my own path and choices, and gives me a change to know more about what’s going on in the market place, so if and when I make any changes I have some point of reference.

It was that same point of reference I wanted to give to my friend recently when they made some decisions about direction. We shared our salaries, as well as experiences and ‘strategies’ that when into what we would or would not accept. It was great, and I like to think that having done so gave this friend a stronger position and broader understanding of the experience of others when making his decision.


Written by gsm

09/29/2006 at 4:16 am

Posted in  Miscellaneous 

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