Stefan Hayden

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Bullshit A List Apart Advice: Never Discuss Your Salary

A List Apart says never discuss your salary:

“Never discuss your salary with coworkers. Sharing salary information is not only inappropriate, it can lead to real trouble in the workplace.”

Really? I’ve heard this many times before but never really thought much of it. Lot of people do find talking about financial stuff uncomfortable but is that normal?

So far at the jobs I’ve worked at most every one was fine talking about salary. A List Apart says you should negotiate a salary that you should “feel comfortable with your financial arrangement”. And if you are comfortable then you should not be upset by what other people make.

If you work in a place where your co-workers of similar skill level and position make a salary that is a significant different then that does not sound like an honest work place. You should not be shocked by your co-workers salary. It might be different from your own but not to a shocking degree.

There are many types of jobs where salary are public knowledge. Sports stars and government officials are well aware what their co-works make and so is the general public.

So you should be careful about talking about money with anyone. But if a conducive work environment can only be achieved when salary is kept a dark secrete then something is wrong. If you are happy with your own salary then you should not care what others are paid. And if you are paid tens of thousands of dollar different from your peers then there is some thing wrong with how your company compensates it’s employees and you should know.


Hi, Stefan:

Actually, “A List Apart” didn’t say those things, I did. And I’ve read your post three times now with the same conclusion: I think you may have missed my intention with this sentiment.

Workers have every right to share whatever they want. If you’re a union, you would normally discuss your salary and benefits openly since the purpose is a fair wage for all.

However, if you’re in a situation where you find yourself THAT different in pay for your skills, then something went wrong with either the homework done to get the job (salary hunting) or you didn’t negotiate up.

My statement is that you shouldn’t share your financial arrangement with an employee unless you’re ready to accept the consequences.

I do feel, however, that one should NEVER discuss a freelance rate with a member of the client staff who isn’t involved in your contract. That is simply off-limits and could lead in some cases to termination.

For what it’s worth, I get your point. I just feel that there’s more to the story.



While I agree that perhaps you did not mean it that way the quote I use is pulled directly from the list of the “full-time hero” with a “Salary” and that sounds like an employee to me.

I definitely don’t want to make any statement toward freelance contract work as I have basically zero experience with it.

thanks for the comments.


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