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How to Negotiate a Pay Raise

Maren Wade’s Confessions of a Showgirl: How to Negotiate a Pay Raise

As I demonstrated in my last column, showgirls are smart. However, throughout years of evolution, we haven’t yet mastered the skill of negotiation. Negotiation is like a ping pong match. In a world other than a showgirl’s, the opening offer is a starting point. The initial “offeror” quotes extra low, knowing that the “offeree” will ask for more. The “offeree” comes back asking for more, knowing he will take much less than what he is asking.

Then, both sides meet in the middle and an agreement is made.

Here is how it goes for a showgirl:

Producer (aka Offeror): Congratulations! We would like to offer you the role of (fill in the blank). It pays (fill in the blank) per week.

Showgirl: That’s not enough to buy myself a coffee. After all these years of training, I end up with this? Well, you can take that offer and (fill in the blank.)

Okay, I have a confession to make. That’s not exactly what the showgirl says. It’s more like:

Showgirl: OMG! Thank you so much. This is my dream job and I’m so excited to be a part of the cast.

A few months roll by and the thrill of being in a glamorous Vegas show wears thin. The showgirl is physically and mentally exhausted and she starts craving those coffees she can’t afford. It’s time to negotiate a pay raise.

Showgirl: I want to thank you for this amazing opportunity to be a part of your show. I have had the time of my life and I was wondering if we could discuss a few things.

Producer: Yes of course. By the way, you have done a fabulous job! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. Are you thinking you want to renew your contract?

Showgirl (to herself): Why are they asking that question? OMG! They told me I’m doing a fabulous job. That’s like the “It’s not you, it’s me” speech from a boyfriend. Why are they thanking me? Is this the goodbye? Am I getting fired?! I can’t get fired! After all my hard work and dedication, they’re going to thank me by firing me?

Showgirl (to Producer): Of course I’m renewing! Where is that contract? Can we do it now? By the way, I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’ve been starving myself a lot lately, hence the reason my costumes are fitting way looser these days. It’s actually been a really great thing that I can’t afford to eat as much. I think it’s doing wonders for my self-esteem and my career. Some other showgirls might not feel that way. You know, like the new ones you might be thinking about auditioning to replace me, but I would just like you to know that it’s fine for me. In fact, I prefer it that way.

Anyway, I’m so glad we had this talk. I’m really looking forward to this next contract … and to seeing how skinny I can get.

Okay, I have another confession to make. She really only says, “Of course, I’m renewing!” But she’s thinking about the rest of it.

Producer: That’s great news! We are so happy to have you! Oh and by the way, we were thinking we should cut back …

His voice trails off, as the showgirl gets lost in the inner dialogue of her mind.

Showgirl (to herself): They have to cut back? Now they’re asking me to take a pay cut? I mean, a minute ago they were firing me, so I should consider myself lucky. I’ll just write my lowest offer. Let them know I’m serious about staying. On second thought, I better go lower to be safe. Fine, this is my absolute lowest number.

Showgirl (blurted out): Alright! Here’s my absolute and final offer!

Producer (finishing his sentence): We were thinking we should cut back on rehearsals since you have all been doing such a fabulous job! What’s all this about an offer?

And that’s how a showgirl negotiates a pay cut.


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