What does your boss really think of you? What about your performance? Getting honest feedback could be a big help to your career, but finding out what you need to know can be a problematic and often delicate task.

Some managers are open to feedback and even criticism. In fact, some companies require regular coaching or feedback sessions. But others are hesitant to start what could be an uncomfortable conversation. Fortunately, there are ways to get a cautious manager to open up. Acknowledging up front that you have some weaknesses that you want to work on can motivate a manager to help you out with the challenges you’re facing. Convey an awareness of your shortcomings and a willingness to work on them to start an open and productive conversation on your performance and future at the company.

But what if you’re not aware of any shortcomings? What if you disagree with the feedback you receive? Keep a calm, neutral expression and try to get what you can from the meeting. There’s value in feedback, even if it’s negative. Ask for specifics. He or she may tell you that you’re not meeting expectations or that you’re not a “team player,” but why? Ask for specific examples. And ask what you can do to resolve the issue.

Thank the manager for whatever comments he or she has for you, even if you disagree. All feedback is useful. Knowing what your boss thinks of you can help you to be successful in the workplace and can help improve your working relationship, as well.

To get around the awkwardness, set the stage for regular feedback right away when beginning a relationship with a new manager. Let your boss know up front that you’d prefer regular and honest feedback. That way, you both know how it’s going and what changes need to be made.