Ask the Boss!

We asked make-up artist Bobbi Brown, founder and president of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, to answer some of your trickiest work questions:

QUESTION: How should I go about discussing career goals with my boss? — Faith (Saratoga Springs, NY)

A good boss will appreciate the fact that you've got goals, so don't be afraid to speak up. Before talking to your boss, sit down and outline where you are now, where you'd like to be, and how you see yourself getting there. Your boss is more likely to support you if you do some legwork first and show your initiative.

QUESTION: I deal a majority of the time with foreign co-workers and clients. What is your advice for communicating effectively and avoiding misunderstandings? — Mara (Arlington, VA)

It all boils down to communication. The strongest relationships — whether they're personal or professional — are the ones where people talk to and continually check in with each other. Conflict comes up when people make assumptions or play guessing games. And don't underestimate the power of being nice. Treat people with kindness and respect now and it will come back to help you in the future.

QUESTION: I like to check out the competition and then go over ideas with my boss. What is a good way to go about critiquing our operations in a non-threatening way? — Kelley (Raleigh, NC)

It's always better to approach things from a positive place. Start by pinpointing your company's strengths, then get into the ways in which you think the company could be even better.

Bobbi Brown's most recent book, Beauty Evolution, is now out in paperback.