Warning: This is a “put on your big-boy pants” blog. Ahead are ego-challenging, non-sugar-coated statements.

Many people are challenged to take feedback even in a business setting: “I try to do the right thing and then I get slapped for it.”

I doubt you were slapped, though that is a feeling you certainly may choose if you wish to pass on a learning opportunity. What you most likely got was FEEDBACK: “You did well, it’s just that you could have done better and here is how.”

There is an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I always liked the concept and for the longest time I imagined the teacher as a kindly Mr. Chips, pointing to a blackboard that clearly outlined the 3 points or ten tips that I should absorb. I waited and waited but Mr. Chips seldom showed up. I wondered what was wrong and then finally I realized the problem was me. The teachers were appearing, I just wasn’t hearing them. My teachers tended to be irritating people who spoke blunt truths and they weren’t sugar-coating the lessons.

It’s always nice when someone pre-digests things for you and hands you life’s lessons in easy-to-swallow bites, nicely seasoned so you won’t have any problems taking them in. But don’t count on it, not if you want to grow, grow quickly, and take personal responsibility for your life and your life’s progress.

Your supervisor is busy, just like you. Sure it would be nice until he or she waited for a quiet moment and praised you for the things you did right and then gently pointed out the ways you could have improved, all the while being very observant to make sure your feelings aren’t being hurt. Somewhere there may be a world like that but I’ve yet to find it. Yes, feedback should always be given with respect and as much diplomacy as can be mustered, but it’s not your boss’s job to tiptoe around your feelings or to skip delivering the truth because your ego has trouble dealing with it.

So: Can you handle feedback? Or do you have to be coddled?

Note: Not all of my “irritating teachers” were spot-on all the time. Sometimes even when I disciplined myself to listen deeply, I knew that not all of what they were saying was correct. It is easy to use partial error as an excuse to discount an entire message—easy but not smart. Take the wisdom offered, leave what doesn’t fit, stay humble about your decision as you may have cause to re-think it later. There is much to learn.