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Talking about salaries

A little while back, I was at a talk in a community college classroom where an engineer from Boeing (they make airplanes, among other things) was giving a short lecture on how to better prepare yourself as a beginner in the engineering field. Suddenly, out of the blue.. an awkward guy straight up raises his hand and asks:

So, like, how much money do you make?”

The young engineer at the front of the class got quiet, and looked at the host of the whole thing, then looked at the student again, and chuckled.

“If you want to know, I’ll tell you after the lecture… I mean, it’s no big deal but.. you know.”

Oh, so what kind of car do you drive?”

“A Corolla?”

We all felt the tension in the room and we wanted it to go away, but could do very little about it.

Has anyone ever wondered WHY it is so awkward to speak about salaries?

money salary

I mean, even with our close friends and relatives. With our parents and siblings. With strangers at the bus stop. Why have we tabooed the crap out of it?

We make ourselves vulnerable by revealing how much money we make. It is almost like telling someone how much we weigh, or what your cup size is. We can all make a pretty good estimated guess, but refuse to bring attention to it at all cost.

I just find it funny how we just avoid the topic, and how easy it is to do so because nobody likes to talk about it. Not even “rich” people.

So, how much money do you make?

Haha, just kidding.

Here’s the question:

Are you open to speaking about salaries?


From yesterday’s post:

How do you let someone know that you want them to shut up?



Excellent idea. Just lie your way out of there. 

“But tomorrow is Sunday!” 

“Yeah, its a Sunday test. It’s a pretty hardcore class!”

The good news is you can use that excuse 5 days out of the week. 

When you really want someone to shut up but have to be polite

There are some people who really like to talk.

And I mean REALLY talk. Some do it because they are nervous, and others are just plain talkers.

I run into a few of these people about once a day. They tell you about their day, and about their life.. then make a comment about how they’re taking up your time, they apologize, and then keep talking.


For women in the dating world:

Imagine yourself sitting at a bar, with a couple of your girlfriends.. trying to act all cool. Suddenly someone takes the bait and he begins to approach you. Uh oh. Here he comes.

“Hello, I’m Jeff.”

“Melissa. Nice to meet you.”

“How is your evening going?”

“It’s going well, thank you.”

“Same for me, a couple of my friends had a blah blah blah…” and he goes on and on about people you don’t know doing things you don’t care about.

So he keeps talking and talking and you just sit there,  smiling, looking away every once in a while hoping that he gets the message –but no luck. What do you do? Pretend to get a phone call? Say you need to go to the restroom? …yawn?

For men in the dating world:

Well, let us be honest here.. you probably think the date is going well if she keeps talking.


I don’t know. Sometimes I just wish I could leave the person talking by themselves. How many times have you been on a phone call and literally put the phone down, go pee or make yourself a sandwich, and then pick up the phone again only to discover that the person still hasn’t stopped talking?

How do you let them know?

When someone’s card declines, and you don’t know how to tell them

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like those machines that you find at Target, or Vons/Safeway.. or large retailer places that have the screen for you to swipe your own card, see your total, ask for your signature.. and it even asks if you want cash back. They are super awesome, because in case my card declines, only I will know.

I always thought it was just awkward for the person whose card declined, but once I became a cashier, I discovered how awkward it is for the person telling you so. Here’s how it usually goes:

The customer comes in, purchases something and gives you the card. You swipe it and suddenly you get this message: Error, Card Declined.



So you swipe it again.. acting like you’re having trouble with it, while hoping that the person will realize on their own that they have insufficient funds and will ask you to try another card.


You act confused, and make it obvious that the card is not working and they look at you with the look of shame, almost like when you get home to your dog taking the stuffing out of your couch cushions. You must break the news. There is just no other way.

“I’m sorry sir, your card declined.”


I said that a few times and I felt like the worst person ever! So I worked out a technique:

“Hmm, this card isn’t working.. I wonder what happened.”

or I ask,

“Has this card been giving you trouble elsewhere?”

What makes it even more awkward is when you’re a server at a place and you must tell the person in front of the other members of their table that the card declined, or when the guy is trying to look like a big shot in front of his date and his card won’t help him out.

Has anyone else there been in this situation? How would you tell them?

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