Publish Date: in Finance Today
People have a deeper relationship with money than you might think. It can be quite uncomfortable when two people with different rules of money etiquette meet. Discussing the topic of money – much like the topics of politics or religion is often considered taboo and a general faux pas. Why is this the case? Below we delve into the money taboo, its origins, its reasons, and etiquette tips to avoid offending others.
The money taboo is prevalent in society over decades, which suggests that it is considered rude, impolite, or even tacky to discuss finances with others.
The origins of this taboo began in England, where discussing finances was considered ‘gauche’ by the upper classes of British society. The reason behind this is quite simple, that is, under the pretense of etiquette and general good manners, upper-class families generally kept their financial status and other details to avoid feeling guilty for their wealth. Similarly, middle-class families tended to do the same for different reasons, mainly to conceal their lack of economic stability and status to others. On the other hand, working-class people tended not to follow such rules. They were more likely to openly discuss this topic in an attempt to justify the difficulties of supporting themselves and their families.
The underlying principle is simple: money represents power and status. If you ask an individual how much they earn, you indirectly question their personal worth. Society has ingrained the following belief: how much you make is directly correlated to your self-worth and how successful you believe yourself to be. This is perhaps because it is human instinct to compare yourself to others and rightly or wrongly, we feel that our peers judge our success by how much money we make or have.
money represents power and status. If you ask an individual how much they earn, you indirectly question their personal worth
Regardless of the above, it is permissible to bring up the topic of finances in certain situations, as long as it is done in the right way, so as not to offend the other person.
1.What are your reasons for asking? Assess your motivations. Are you asking in an attempt to compare your financial status relative to them, or is there a legitimate reason for bringing it up? It is perfectly acceptable to discuss this if you require financial information about the person, such as in a work setting where you might need to find out what a potential employee’s expectations are in terms of salary.
2.Consider the setting: When asking someone a personal question regarding their finances, try to do so in a private setting. This way, the other party will be less uncomfortable and more compelled to answer without shame or judgment.