During small talk with my hairdresser I was talking about an upcoming job interview (which was the reason I went to the hairdresser), and then I accidentally mentioned what I was going to earn per hour. I didn't mention it the the rest of the time and we talked about a lot of other things before as well as after I mentioned it. It wasn't my intention to mention it but it kinda just slipped out because I was kind of excitingly talking about it. I realize that he's probably earning more than me due to a number of reasons, but that only makes it feel even more inappropriate.

I haven't had a lot of social activity the past few years so I'm really unsure as to how bad it actually is. He ignored it and talked about something else but he definitely heard me mention it. How inappropriate was it to mention my salary like this?

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    If your hair dresser is the salon owner, then they know more about business and money and so on than you, and probably had a good idea how much you are making anyway. One look at clothes, shoes, watch, jewellery if you wear it, will tell them a lot.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 17, 2020 at 23:40
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    You may want to replace your "europe" tag with a specific country. I'm pretty sure Europe is not monolithic in its views on this topic. (Hell, even within Sweden, where I live, I would expect a variety of views.) Jul 18, 2020 at 8:41
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    Actually I would not talk to just someone about my salary, not even with friends because I consider it not a suitable subject and it only could arise jealousy for one of us. But in case of your hairdresser I see no reason to think good or bad of you. Where do you see a problem, why do you think it could be bad?
    – puck
    Jul 18, 2020 at 10:04
  • @Bad_M7te : what exactly are you trying to accomplish here ? If it’s about "feeling better", it’s not exactly and interpersonal issue, rather an intrapersonal one.
    – breversa
    Jul 20, 2020 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


While some may claim this is a matter of opinion, it is fairly well-documented that most western cultures generally consider it crass, or "tacky" to discuss their salary. Certainly, in my home country of the United Kingdom, I know this to be the case. This article from Business Insider discusses how other countries feel about it, and apparently most European nations seem to feel the same way.

However, "rude" and "tacky" are not the same thing. There is rarely an excuse for being rude in polite company, but there may be certain contexts when discussing things like salary could be justified or, at the very least, excused.

Talking in public about one's income, particularly if it seemed you raised the subject deliberately, would generally be seen as bragging. Even if the amount of your income was very low, there are some who look down on "pleading poverty" as just a different means of drawing attention to oneself.

However, it is only really talking about the amount of one's salary that is considered crude, not talking about the concept of remuneration itself. If, for example, you wanted to relate an anecdote about asking your employer for a pay rise, you could likely do this without mentioning the starting salary, the amount of the raise, or your final salary. In the right context, this might be acceptable.

I wouldn't worry excessively about your mentioning it to your hairdresser. If it was not your intention to brag then the chances are that is not how it would have come over to them. If you are young, allowances are also likely to be made for your inexperience. I would say it is highly likely they will not remember the conversation for long, as hairdressers make constant small-talk with dozens of customers every day, and this sort of thing must surely come up. In a genuinely haughty person it would probably come over a whole lot worse than your innocently mentioning it. My hairdresser asks me the same questions every time I visit - am I going anywhere for the summer, or what are my plans for Christmas. I tell him the same thing every time and still the same question. Even if there is a chance they do remember you, just make it your goal to avoid the subject again. If someone has a wrong impression of you, the best way is often to show over time that they are wrong, rather than argue a case. If you are normally a humble person, they won't hold any judgement against you.


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