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In work as in life, we like to feel recognized for a job well done, and sometimes that requires asking for a raise when we feel one is deserved. Although there are going to be times that, no matter how well you approach the topic or phrase your request, the answer will simply be “no” or “yes,” but taking the time to prepare and make sure you know what you’re going to say will only help you in your endeavor. Here are some ways you can best prepare for having this tough conversation.

Plan ahead

When it comes to serious professional conversations like this, you don’t want to jump in and wing it in the hopes that things will fall into place. This is more than just a conversation — asking for a raise is a business negotiation, and you’d never walk into a meeting with a client or customer unprepared. Look for ways that you’ve added value to the company and times you’ve gone above and beyond, and make a list of reasons why you feel you deserve a raise that you can rehearse prior to your conversation.

Do it in person

Although email communication is prevalent throughout the world of business, this is one conversation you’re absolutely going to want to have in person. Set up a time with your boss when the two of you can sit down and discuss your salary so that you don’t catch them at a bad time or under-plan for the time it will take to have the conversation. Then, when it comes time to have the talk, dress the part and have confidence in yourself.

Leave your co-workers out of it

Never, ever bring up the salary of a co-worker when negotiating for a raise. I seriously cannot stress this strongly enough. In a professional world, you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to others as a justification for a higher salary; you should be demonstrating how you personally have gone above and beyond and why you deserve to be making more for your work. Dragging fellow employees into the conversation makes you look nosy and petty, especially when you don’t know their background or why they might be qualified to be earning more.

Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, but taking the time to prepare and rehearse can really make the difference. Even if you don’t get it this time, you’ll be better prepared the next time salary negotiations are on the table.