There's a subtle art to asking your friends how much they earn.
Talking about salary has never been an easy topic, especially among friends. Have you ever had a friend come up to you and outright ask you how much you earn? Or you in turn, ask friends salary standards in their industries?
Most of us won't typically ask our friends how much they earn, but those of us who do often get vague answers like, "Oh, the industry standard."
Some who might be a little more open will respond with a range. But few will actually disclose their salaries.
Why is that so? Were we brought up in a culture that discouraged talking about money? Just like how it's rude for Asians to open gifts in front of the gift giver or to quickly tear open our ang pows to see how much our relatives have given us this year for Chinese New Year?
But what we don't realise is that we SHOULD be talking to our friends and peers about how much we earn - whether it is more or less.
Often, companies and employers can get away with paying their staff less, especially female staff, because there is little transparency in the industry and among peers. Since staff are encouraged to be private about their earnings, employers can get away with paying staff different wages.
When I first started working in a media company in Malaysia, having no experience and being told I should not discuss my pay, I did not realise that I was earning less than one of my colleagues who joined around the same time. Until the topic came up over drinks one night.
I realised that HR had made a mistake and when I brought this up to the managing editor, my pay was immediately adjusted and I was fairly compensated.
But in this example, I learnt that if I was afraid of admitting how much I earned, I would have never learnt that my pay was not adjusted after our probationary periods were up.
It's a well-known fact that men earn more than women in general - regardless of the industry. But why should this be the case? If you feel like you're being unfairly compensated because of your gender, you can call your employer our for discrimination.
If you feel uncomfortable discussing your pay with your male colleagues, go to your male friends within the same industry to compare salaries.
Don't be afraid to admit you earn less (or more) than they do. This is also a good way to gauge whether your company truly values your worth over your gender.
Sometimes, when speaking to your friends, you may find out that they earn WAY more than you. But why is that so? One of the reasons could be their stellar negotiation skills. There's no harm in asking your friends how they managed to get their pay up so much.
You could learn a thing or two from your friends in negotiating your pay.
You can't expect to get some without giving some, right? That especially applies to asking your friends about their salaries. They are probably not going to reveal their salaries unless you bring yours up first and be totally open and honest about it and be honest about your intentions too.
This 'excuse' might still get you the answers you need, especially if you're not THAT close to the 'friend' you're asking. You could disguise your query as something your other 'friend' needs to know.
Talk about work and work-related topics before jumping into the big topic of money. You could be discussing how a colleague was unfairly treated and if the same culture applies at your friend's workplace. Then slowly ease into talking about compensation and benefits at work too.
In order to get the answer you need, you will also want to phrase your question in a very straightforward manner and not beat around the bush. Read your friend's personality. If they are the type of person who is straightforward, then ask them in a straightforward manner if they mind sharing their salary with you. Assure them that their answer will be kept confidential.
Friends should be open to ask friends salary, to keep things transparent and fair. Would you be willing to share your salary with your friends? Let us know in the comments.
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