Why Is It So Hard to Talk About Money, Especially at Work?

The pressures to keep quiet, and the stakes of doing so, are heightened for women of color, who are told in subtle and unsubtle ways that they will face consequences for breaking from social conventions. Kristen Egziabher, 41, for example, who works in financial technology and lives in Texas, recalled that her parents, who had both graduated from historically Black colleges in the 1970s, taught her to avoid asking questions in the workplace that might cause her to stick out. Get noticed for quality of work, they told her, not for stirring up trouble. As a result, Ms. Egziabher rarely talks about salary negotiations with her teammates.

On top of the stigma surrounding money conversations, there’s the constant thrum of expectations to keep up with the Joneses or Kardashians — expectations that people have the newest sneaker brands and are taking weekend trips with friends, all while juggling student loans and the strain of inflation.

Terrence Shulman, a therapist who runs a program for people with financial problems including overspending and compulsive theft, has seen the way shame, guilt and childhood trauma merge to form pernicious habits, such as hiding debt from family members. Mr. Shulman experienced this himself. Growing up, he watched his mother take on debt when his father stopped paying child support. As a teenager, he buckled under the weight of trying to be a good son, and he started rebelling by shoplifting. Mr. Shulman later sought therapeutic treatment for his financial anxieties, and he has now offered it to hundreds of patients.

Even as a person who thinks and talks about financial honesty all day, Mr. Shulman struggles to speak candidly to friends about his salary. Five years ago, a close friend asked him how much he made and he balked.

“He goes ‘Do you mind my asking how much money you make?’” Mr. Shulman recalled. “I didn’t know what to say. If he’d asked me ‘How’s it going with your wife?,’ I’d tell him all the details.”

Slowly, though, cracks in the social surface are appearing, which career coaches are eager to wedge open even further.

When graduate students visit one of the career counseling offices at the University of Colorado, Molly Thompson, 44, a counselor for the masters of the environment program, asks them to calculate their “survival number”: the minimum amount of money they need to get by, taking into account rent, food and student loans. They account for inflation by adding 15 percent. Then they calculate 20 percent above that baseline number. That’s the figure they use to anchor their salary negotiations, as they apply for their first jobs out of graduate school.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

Related posts