I have been in only one, monogamous romantic relationship for all of my adult life, and so my entire quota of cheap thrills (you know, the ones derived from violent flirtation, double- and triple-timing, sneaking out for a quickie, keeping people dangling, having all the power in the equation) has only ever come from my professional life. And while #RealFlirts may find corporate flirting a bit sad and sanskari, all I would say to them is, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

The principles remain the same. Every relationship is a chase, and we must always strive to be the “chasee", not the chaser. Or, as our grandmothers used to say in a more politically incorrect time, “He chased her and chased her and chased her, until she caught him."

So keep the headhunters dangling. Let them sweat. Make sure that for every three calls they make, you return only one. I know there’s a lot of corporate speak about “showing them the fire in your belly" and “proving you have the appetite for the job", and of course that’s true (I’m assuming you’re a damn fine worker with both ability and the correct attitude, btw). The trick is to show that you have appetite and a burning belly, sure, but maybe, not just for this particular job. It’s a more, uh, global kinda hunger that’s consuming you. So, be friendly, fascinating and seductive, but make sure you’re always the first to hang up. And when you meet, maintain a slight evasiveness and contrive a faraway look in your eyes (your horizons are so wide, you see).

What we tend to forget when we’re looking to make a job switch is that the people who are recruiting are also slightly desperate. Stuff is backing up on their desks and in their system and they need to close things fast. So, their self-esteem is a little low. And so, no matter how many people they interview, they will always want to, like Groucho Marx, belong to clubs that won’t have them. So please get out of mata-ki-chowki mode (all are welcome, entry free) and go all Delhi Gymkhana Club on them. And do what the gay male friend in every rom-com movie ever is always advising the love-lorn heroine to do. Don’t phone them. Wait for them to call. And when they do, be all breezy and “oh hey, nice to hear from you, what’s up?" Then name your price, and be the first to hang up. (Also, if they don’t call, they just weren’t that much into you, and nothing you could’ve done would have changed that. In which case, you need to chalk it up to experience and move on. After all, as the song goes, tujhe yaad na meri aayee, kisi se ab kya kehna.

Switching to a slightly later scenario, but staying with the relationships parallel, let’s talk appraisals. When you’re in the negotiating chair, and the song that springs to your lips is what Eliza Doolittle sings when she finally had it with old Henry Higgins. “Words words words, I’m so sick of words, I get words all day through, first from him, now from you, is that all you blighters can do?" She then proceeds to hit the chorus. “Don’t talk of stars, burning above, if you’re in love, show me! Sing me no song, read me no rhyme, don’t waste my time, show me!"

Of course the show of love you want, in place of the barrage of words and graphs and slides and justifications and lectures on the global financial crisis that you’re being hit with, is a nice, fat hike in your CTC.

So, do not be manipulated into feeling like a clingy woman who is spoiling the fun for her carefree lover by saying the M word. Say the M word loud and proud. We can talk about “role", and “designation" and “career growth" and “job satisfaction" till the cows come home, but the fact of the matter, the proof of the pudding, the ring on the finger, that irrefutable evidence that we are wanted, needed, valued and loved by our employers, is, finally, only money.

Or, as Madhuri Dixit so pithily put it, “Paise dedo, joote lelo."

Wine to five is a weekly column featuring the random musings of a well-irrigated, middle management mind. Anuja Chauhan is an author and advertising consultant.

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