Whether you’re accepting your first job or have been working with your company for years, salary negotiation is an integral part of advancing in your career. Salary negotiations can feel a little overwhelming and be awkward, especially if you get pushback from your boss, but they’re still necessary if you want to be paid your worth. It’s also important to remember your boss expects you to try to negotiate your salary, so don’t worry about coming across as rude or unrealistic for asking for more pay.

Know your worth

The first step to negotiating your salary is to know what you should be getting paid. If you’re being underpaid, it’s important to attempt to get your salary as close to the average in your industry as possible. If you work for a small company or somewhere that the cost of living is lower than average, you’ll get paid less, but if you’re being paid less than the other people doing the same job in your company or even in your city or town, you should work to get an equivalent salary.

Prove your competence

While it’s important to negotiate your salary, it’s not very useful if the work you do doesn’t reflect the amount you’re asking for. When going into your meeting where you’ll be discussing salary negotiation, it’s important you can prove your value to the company. Write down how you’ve helped the company and what you do incredibly well that makes you believe you deserve a raise. Head into your meeting with this mental list so you can provide clear examples of why you should be paid more.

Consider other benefits

Your company might not offer you exactly what you’re asking for, but there are other benefits that could make up for monetary value. When negotiating, it’s important to take into consideration other benefits the company has. Do they offer great health care and plenty of vacation days? You might want to stay if you’re making less than you would somewhere else of there are quality benefits. Even if the benefits aren’t ideal, could you negotiate for them if they company can’t budge on your salary?

Communicate properly

When you’re negotiating your salary, it’s important you know how to properly approach the conversation and communicate well. You want to use positive language and make sure it doesn’t turn into a case of you versus your boss when negotiating. Use phrases like “let’s work together” and “compromise” in order to increase your chances of getting the salary you want. It’s also important to avoid bringing personal financial concerns into the equation; if you talk about why you need more money, it signals that you don’t care about the job and are only looking to help yourself out.

Practice beforehand

Like any speech or important conversation, practicing beforehand can make the actual event much easier. You’ll have your talking points prepared, know what you’re going to say, and will feel less stressed about it. Practicing also helps you anticipate pushback you may receive and be prepared for how you’ll respond.