Your Mom may have told you “Don’t talk about money or religion in polite company!” Mom probably had it right. But, should you find yourself needing to talk about money, let me give you a few tips because this is actually one of my LEAST favorite topics and I have had to take my own medicine on this one!
Set it up: As you bring up the topic, put it in perspective. If it is an uncomfortable part of your relationship, get it out there! “Listen, I know this isn’t our favorite topic, but it would be great if we could address it and put it behind us.” One of my favorite church pastors used to relax everyone in the congregation by joking about how much he hated talking about money and then pointing out Christ actually discussed the topic quite often. If it was okay for the Big Guy, it should be okay for a lowly pastor!
Get Help or Bring in a Third Party: If this is not your best topic or there is a serious question centering on money, call for back-up. We too often feel we have to handle things on our own. Who else within the company knows this stuff? Would your boss help here? What about your CPA? You know what makes sense, but don’t feel you have to go it alone.
What Makes You Uncomfortable? As I think through my own discomfort with money issues, I also have to be honest. Numbers have never been my favorite thing. I often think I’ll make a stupid math mistake and embarrass myself. Or is it the other person? Do they purposely keep the money issue in the background, or obscure it behind a lot of hard-to-figure mumbo-jumbo? If you can get to the core of what is troubling you, you can probably sort out a solution.
Offer some comparisons: What’s the bottom line on ANY money discussion? Often, someone is afraid they’re getting ripped off! So, to address that issue, always have a fair comparative number when you can. Or offer an anecdote that provides some perspective.
Take Your Time: If any of us try to address a sensitive money issue AND rush it, we are probably headed for big trouble. When I bought my current home, the previous owner and I sat down on many different occasions to talk through the process. I never wanted her to feel I was rushing her and, in turn, she was very good to work with. She knew I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one and therefore we were able to come to a solution which worked for both of us.
Finally, when you are doing some of the things listed above, point it out! Folks who are uptight about the discussion will not necessarily think about all you’re doing to make this work. Take a little credit for your fore thought and let that be part of the discussion.
Thanks for being part of this community and Happy Thanksgiving!
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Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.