Answer Line spells out seven ways to ask for a raise

June 1, 1998
Good morning, and thank you for calling the Answer Line. This is Tanya speaking. And how may I help you? ... You`re a dental hygienist and think you`re due for a raise, but don`t know how to ask for one? ...

She`s singin` the blues `cause she took the wrong clues

Joanne I. Sheehan, RDH

Good morning, and thank you for calling the Answer Line. This is Tanya speaking. And how may I help you? ... You`re a dental hygienist and think you`re due for a raise, but don`t know how to ask for one? ...

You`re right. It can be humiliating if you don`t like asking for money. But you`re in luck. Here, at the Answer Line, we have a former hygienist who will be glad to help you get that pay increase. Her name is Kathy. Hold on and I`ll connect you. ...

Hi, Kathy here. Where are you calling from? ... Yes, I know where that is. I interviewed for a job in that town. You like working there? ... Great! OK. First, we`ll try the straightforward approach.

Plan 1 Offer the doctor a complimentary scaling and prophylaxis. This probably will be done after hours, so make sure you don`t have a conflict with your schedules. You`ll be dog-tired, but make an effort to do your best. After all, this is part of your argument for deserving a raise, right? ... That`s right, your superior skills and more-than-adequate knowledge of your profession. Try to find something complimentary to say about his oral hygiene, his crowns or, failing that, his glasses. Don`t be shy. You`re only engaging

in a technique businessmen have used for years at cocktail parties and golf games. Schmooze a little and don`t forget a confident smile when you make your "money move." If you think you deserve a raise, act like it. Let me know what happens. Good luck!

Plan 2It`s Kathy. Can I help you? Hey! ... Uh oh, your boss looked a little scared when you offered your services and said he`d get back to you? ... All right. Do something noninvasive. ... Like a cookout. It`s supposed to be beautiful this weekend! Invite your boss, his wife, and your parents. Set the time for 1 p.m. That way, he can`t have more than two beers before the plane appears at 1:30. Make sure he sees the message it`s towing, but don`t you be the one who points it out. (Your parents will come in handy here.) Pre-arrange for the pilot to make two sweeps past your house in case your boss doesn`t catch it all the first time. The message should read, Doctor, appreciate your hygienist?? $how her! Call me back and let me know what happened. Bye!

Plan 3 Answer Line, Kathy here. ... Oh, hi! How`d it go? ... The pilot bailed out on the second pass because of a lightning strike and a sudden, blinding rainstorm? ... Your cookout got rained out? ... Gee, that`s too bad! No problem, though. Just grill the office manager instead on what the boss likes to nibble on - you know, his favorite gourmet coffee or ethnic deli item. Fix up a little box and have it sent to his house with a note. Make sure you put your return address on it, so he knows it`s just from you. Wait, where did you say you worked? ... You don`t say. ... Oh, and send your package to arrive tomorrow after 5 p.m.

Plan 4 It`s Kathy. What? ... You received a beautiful "thank you" note and an invitation to dinner from Gaylord, the doctor`s next-door neighbor? ... The deliveryman must have read your 6 in the address as an 8. But don`t give up yet! Tomorrow, when you get a patient whom you`ve seen for a few years, finish treating him and buzz the doctor. Then start a conversation with your patient about food stamps. If you time it right, the boss will walk in just as you are wondering out loud if you`re eligible to apply. Later, be prepared to be called into the boss` office. Be ready to list your reasons why you deserve a pay increase. Be bold, firm and sure of yourself. He`ll like that! When did you start at that office? ... Really? ... Call me back tomorrow. Bye!

Plan 5 Answer Line, Kathy speaking. It didn`t work? Well, who knew your patient would lecture your boss about paying his staff like a group of migrant workers?! ... Pretty mad, huh? ... Sorry. O.K., then, let`s concentrate on his wife for now. Find out her favorite restaurant and take them both out to dinner. Wear something really short and perky. Try to look young and vivacious. Younger women are more energetic and productive in the office. You will see that doctors` wives have a keen eye for value and seem to be better about protecting their investments. You are a valuable commodity in your place of business. How much did you say you were making? ... Wow! But you have built a patient following, haven`t you? ... And you have proven yourself to be a real asset to the office. She knows this? ... Good! She also knows your daughter is starting college in the fall? ... Great, then your need for a pay raise is even more understandable. So, somewhere between the second glass of wine and the cherries jubilee, look him straight in the eyes, put on your best pouty face and pop the question. Don`t worry if the boss gives you a negative or vague answer. You`ve already convinced the woman he sleeps with! Pillow talk has conquered nations and planted ideas to be dealt with later. Surely, the boss`s boss will put in a good word for you. Now, go get `em!

Plan 6 It`s Kathy. What`s your problem? ... Oh, it`s you! You say pillow talk also has gotten people beheaded? ... Well, how was I supposed to know that four out of six of their waiters quit yesterday because of a pay-raise dispute? ... And if you had asked when you made the reservations, you would have known that "Overtime Al" was having a wild promotion party that night! Gee, with all the noise, Dr. Browne probably didn`t hear a word you said. ... No, don`t worry about his wife`s comment about your dress. She sounds like she needs to trust her husband more. We`ll have to try something more "in your face." ... I`ve got a great idea! On neon-orange posterboard, make a collage of "want ads" from local area papers. ... It doesn`t matter if you wouldn`t give any of them a serious thought; cut `em out anyway! Circle or highlight a few that promise great salaries. Hang the posterboard in an area where Dr. Browne can`t miss it, preferably by the coffeepot. Let it hang for at least three days before you ask to see him. Then, let him have it with both barrels. Give him an ultimatum. Get nasty if you have to. That`s all some people understand. How did I know your doctor`s name? ... I interviewed with him three years ago. He never called me back. Thought I had the job, too, but he had one more person. ... Well, gotta go. Everybody`s got problems today and I`m supposed to solve them all. I really hate this job!!!

Plan 7 Answer line, Kathy ... What? ... After three days, you were ready to confront him until you found the words "go for it!" written beside one of the want ads? ... It looks like Dr. Browne`s writing? ... I just don`t understand how you can mess up every idea I give you. I`m really trying to help you here! Work with me, O.K.? ... We`re down to your last resort. Timing is critical here. This really will cheer him up and make him laugh, so this should be used after a really bad day. ... You know, one where there`s been staff illnesses, cancellations, or surgery no-shows. Even better, try it the same day the automatic developer goes down or something really disastrous and expensive happens. Try to find a time when nothing is working and he`s really miffed! What are your hours? ... You`re only part-time? ... Perfect! O.K., here`s what I want you to do. Call "Ditties for Dollars." ... Yes, the singing-telegram people. ... And have them send a Reba McIntyre soundalike with this message:

So long and hard

She`s worked fer you,

Through having babies,

Colds, and the flu.

Old Ebeneezer

Would agree,

It`s time to raise

Her salary!

Woe, woe, woe,

She`s fixin` to go!

Get ready to grieve

She`s fixin` to leave

I`m warnin` ya, Jack

She ain`t comin` back.

Hey, hey, hey

She said it`s the pay

She`s no stooge,

She thinks you`re a scrooge!

... So what if he really hates country-western! Do you want a raise or not? ... Just trust me. I know what I`m doing. By the way, who`s your office manager and what are her hours tomorrow?

Joanne I. Sheehan, RDH, graduated from the State University of New York at Farmingdale in 1974, and has practiced in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Alabama. She has taught in North Carolina and worked for the Army as a dental hygienist in Germany for three years.