Career Reflections Social Commentary

Is It Ever Okay to Discuss Pay??

A few months ago I moved to a new department at my place of employment. From time to time I still run into my old co-workers. We chat about the old job, what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and how I’m enjoying my new position. It hasn’t happened too much but every now and again, one of them will ask me how much I’m getting paid, like today. Is the pay more? I responded, Yeah, a little more, trying to act nonchalant. Then they started throwing out dollar figures. Somewhere around there, I replied. I guess they were somewhat satisfied with my answer because they suggested that it was a good amount. It’s not bad, I stated. But I could always use more.

Call me old school, but I think it’s absolutely inappropriate to ask someone how much they are getting paid. Unless they’re helping me pay some of these bills, why do they need to know? Especially when in the work place. There’s enough water cooler talk for goodness sake. The last thing I would want is for my finances to be put on blast. Girl, guess how much so and so makes?

If I did tell this person exactly how much I made they might have been offended if it’s more than what they make. No time for mending bruised egos over here. And at the end of the day, a job is a job. My employer could never pay me enough because the value I place on myself is too high!

Do you think it’s inappropriate to discuss pay rates with former/current co-workers or anyone for that matter?

The College Grad


  1. I think it’s ok for a person to ask about pay. But if you brush off the question and try to change the subject, that person should get the hint. And he/she shouldn’t try to pry. Plus, if you were to reveal your pay, I don’t see how that information has any value to that person. Unless it’s for inspiration, it’s most likely for comparison. Also, I’ve noticed that people have no problem revealing their pay if they know their pay is definitely lower than yours. And they know their job is temporary, not a career like yours.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I get where you’re coming from. I definitely feel like the individual was prying. It may have been done with well intentions but the approach was off for me.

      ~ Zeena

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